You probably know that regular exercise can help you lose weight, improve muscle coordination, and boost your overall well-being. But did you know exercise is one of the best ways to improve memory and concentration?
If you or a senior loved one isn’t engaged in much physical activity, it may be time to add a few simple exercises to your daily routine. Exercise can help you remain mentally sharp and avoid memory loss long into the future!
Making a Plan to Exercise for Concentration and Memory
So how can you or your loved one get started on a new exercise plan? For many senior men and women, the process begins with a decision to exercise regularly.
You don’t have to exercise a great deal to keep your brain healthy, but you do want to make sure you’re getting physical exercise of some sort for a few minutes each day.
- A good place to start is with a doctor’s appointment.
- Be sure you’re healthy enough to exercise and become aware of any limitations.
- Your doctor may be happy to encourage you to exercise, but may offer medical advice about the types of workouts you perform.
- You’ll need to take a look at your health and any underlying illnesses before you get started.
- From there, consider the types of exercises best suited for you.
Try These 5 Exercises to Improve Memory and Concentration
Here are our top recommendations for physical exercise to improve memory and concentration. Remember, you don’t need to do all these exercises every single day. Simply pick the activity that suits you best and focus on that. Any exercise is better than no exercise!
Walking is an excellent place for the non-exerciser to get started. Start with a short walk each day and build up to walking for about 20 to 30 minutes when possible.
Here’s what to keep in mind when walking to boost concentration and memory:
- Walk outdoors when possible as small hills and turns help to increase the intensity of the workout.
- Try to walk with a friend for the motivation to go just a bit further (and the companionship!).
- Aim to increase your tolerance over time by adding small weights or by going longer distances.
- If you can’t get outdoors, choose a slow-moving treadmill at home. Again, make sure you know your limits.
For seniors with joint pain or limited mobility, swimming is by far one of the best exercise options available.
- Swimming moves your body without the intensity of joint damage to your knees.
- Even if you’re significantly overweight, you may be able to do more when you’re in the water than on dry land.
3. Tennis, Squash, or Racquetball
These are sports you can do indoors in summer when it’s too hot outside but nice and cool inside. Racket sports are also low intensity – you don’t have to play your heart out on the court to keep your brain active.
- Tennis, squash, and racquetball are all similar in that they offer a little bit of friendly competition, which you or your loved one may enjoy and find motivating.
- Playing doubles offers a social aspect and benefits.
- Check out indoor leagues at your local recreational center.
4. Senior Fitness Programs
Senior fitness programs can be a good way to get some socialization and exercise.
- Check the program and find the activity that’s designed for the level of intensity you’re able to enjoy right now. For example, aerobic exercise or light yoga.
- As your fitness improves, you can move up a level.
- Do these activities with a friend when possible to keep you engaged and mentally stimulated.
5. Exercise at Home
For seniors who may be unable to get out and about as often, you can find numerous ways at home to exercise and improve your memory and concentration.
- Walk around the house, indoors or out.
- Purchase an exercise bike – note that there are hand pedal versions if you’re unable to use a traditional bike.
- Learn a new skill like painting or pottery, which involves light exercise.
- On days when you don’t feel up to physical exercise, try brain exercises like crosswords and puzzles.
How Does Exercise Improve Memory and Concentration?
If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of exercise, we can offer you proof that physical activity keeps the body going and can reduce disease rates among seniors so you have a healthier aging process.
Positive Effects of Exercise on Your Brain
Here’s one study that shows exercise training increases the size of your hippocampus and improves memory. And in a recent article, a neuroscientist says exercise has four main benefits on brain health. The neuroscientist even has a video to support her ideas!
- Exercise decreases feelings of anxiety and depression and instantly boosts your mood by increasing dopamine and other neurotransmitters
- Improves your focus, concentration, and reaction time
- Promotes the growth of new brain cells essential to improving your cognitive abilities
- Protects your brain from aging, cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s disease by increasing the size of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex
Positive Effects of Exercise on Your Body
In addition to boosting your mental health, physical exercise has positive effects on the body that may indirectly lead to improvements in your concentration and memory.
- Exercise alleviates pain and inflammation in the body and improves immune system function
- Reduces insulin resistance, potentially helping with better control over blood sugar levels
- Encourages the development of new blood vessels in the brain, allowing for oxygen-rich blood to reach more parts of the brain
- Regulates stress
- Improves sleep
Staying Active and Exercising for Concentration and Memory
If you want to stay sharp and focused as you age, then you need to get active – and stay active. Once you start exercising, you’ll first start to see the benefits on your body. Over time, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your brain function, memory, and concentration levels.
Click below for great ideas on how you or your senior loved one can stay active!