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The Best type of Physical Activity to improve Cognitive Performance

               We were born to move , there is no doubt about it. As a specie we evolved so quick because of our capability to out-endure any other animal on this planet. Since being a gatherer hunter  in nature is not our thing no more , we got to the point of Exercising instead, breaking off from our often sedentary  lifestyle.

 Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means.  

 The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance,  inflammation, and stimulating  the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Knowing these facts , now comes the ultimate question… which type of exercise is actually the best for your brain ? 


Well … A study made on a group of 59 men and women to either an aerobics-focused program or a stretching and strength-training program. After 6 months, sophisticated brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (#FMRI) showed that the aerobically fit adults had significantly more activity in the frontal cortex of the brain ! IT’s the region associated with executive function (planning and long-term memory storage),The same applied to  the  parietal cortex often  associated with age-related cognitive decline.

A study done at the University of British Columbia, where researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of your brain which is involved in verbal memory and learning. where resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.

Wanna Learn Something New ? close the book now and go for a run !

The part of the brain that responds strongly to aerobic exercise is the hippocampus. Well-controlled experiments show that this brain structure grows as people get fitter. Since the hippocampus is at the core of the brain’s learning and memory systems, this finding partly explains the memory boosting effects of improved cardiovascular fitness.

As well as slowly improving your memory hardware, exercise can have a more immediate impact on memory formation. German researchers showed that walking or cycling during, but not before, learning helped new foreign language vocabulary to stick. 

So it may  look like Cardiovascular activities may have a slight edge over strength training especially when it comes to immediate effects. Keep in mind though that badly  structured endurance training can do more harm than the good in a long run! now…

 What About Yoga ?

Yoga’s benefits are related to the fact that it does the  opposite of more strenuous exercise.

Rather than boosting your heart rate and stimulating your nervous system, yoga puts you in a parasympathetic state that lowers both your blood pressure and heart rate, and this launches a positive cascade of health effects.

There is a study done on a group of 29 middle-aged and older adults , who were anxious about the state of their memories and who, during evaluations were found to have mild cognitive impairment, a mental condition that can be a precursor to eventual dementia.

         The participants were divided into two groups. One group enrolled in a brain-training program for 15 minutes each day at home . The second group participated in a Kundalini yoga class for one hour per week. They were also taught Kirtan Kriya meditation, which involves the use of mantras and fluid hand movements. They were asked to practice this meditation at home for 15 minutes each day.

After 12 weeks, all subjects again underwent cognitive tests and brain scans. Overall, all participants had improved to some degree, but the yoga group not only fared slightly better on memory tests, they also reported improvements in their mood. As reported in the featured article : “The brain scans in both groups displayed more communication now between parts of their brains involved in memory and language skills. Those who had practiced yoga, however, also had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability now to focus and multitask.  In effect, yoga and meditation had equaled and then topped the benefits of 12 weeks of brain training. ‘We were a bit surprised by the magnitude’ of the brain effects, said Dr. Helen Lavretsky … who oversaw the study.”

    Now  wait ! before You run away from the gym

  The new findings, published in the Journal of American Geriatrics, show, for the first time, a ‘positive causal link’ between muscle adaptations to progressive resistance training and the functioning of the brain among people over 55 with MCI.

Study lead author Doctor Yorgi Mavros, of the University of Sydney in Australia, said: ‘What we found is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains.

There is a plethora of other health benefits from lifting weights . 

Strength training improves bones density, It can  upregulates your Hormones like thyroid and testosterone which make it actually easier to stay lean with less exercise in total. The obvious benefit would be that resistance training is the way to achieve a very aesthetic physique which can  boost our self-esteem leading to increase in general quality of our life.


If Your looking for an immediate brain boost , RUN  FOREST RUN !!

Butthe biggest benefits of exercising, lies in including a multiple variety of activities and remember that Learning New Skills is the best cure for brain aging .  

I reduced my strength training from 7 days a week to one or twosessions that last max 1hour , focusing on progressive overload of weight in a small group of  safer exercises like dumbell press, heavy shrugs and military press ,  things that build upper strength and general outlook of our physique . My second gym  session is a HIIT, a  typical Crosffit circuit workout that trully  elevates my HR for 30 mins, KEEPING STRICT FORM as much as it’s possible during such a session . I do work on gymnastic rings aswell in either of these sessions or my acrobatics.

If You need help with adjusting Your Training Plan to Your needs and Lifestyle do not hesitate to contact me .

Stay  Brain Healthy !

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