Fitness for cognitive faculties

 

The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity’s thoughts and consciousness. In many ways it is a definition of self and one of our most precious possessions. So we ought to work to protect it, with food and sleep having well established roles to play, but mounting evidence suggests that exercise can boost brain function and protect against dementia.

Want to boost your brainpower?

Smart people exercise – it’s good for our physical health – but the idea that it can help brain function does make sense: increased blood flow to the brain means more oxygen and nutrients in – and toxins out. So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that moderate cardio exercise performed regularly for at least 45 minutes a day can improve multiple cognitive functions, as does resistance training, while Tai chi can also improve memory.

Walk briskly, jog, hike, cycle, try aerobics or dance around for about 45 minutes to help keep your brain in shape. Take a class, do some active gardening – see and feel the benefit. Basically, if you want to feel and function better, move! And if you want to take a step further…

Why not to ignore muscle

Building muscle isn’t just for bodybuilders – muscle tone and strength is crucial for good health.

Strengthening muscles can stimulate bone growth, control blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce joint pain, improve balance and posture and assist with back pain. It can also help with fighting mild depression.

It’s even more important as we grow older. As we age, we lose muscle mass. Strength training builds it back, while also helping you feel younger and more confident as well as more capable of everyday tasks like carrying groceries, gardening or just lifting heavy luggage off a carousel.

If you feel wary, a personal trainer can easily design a bespoke strength training program that will only need two or three sessions a week at a gym, at home or at work. Prepare for body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, and lunges as well as exercises involving resistance from a weight, a band or a weight machine.

And expect to feel some muscle fatigue at the end of the sessions; if it’s aching, you ain’t faking!

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           About the author

Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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