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This Easy Brain Hack May be The Best Way to Supercharge Your Memory

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By now, anyone who closely follows the research into keeping your brain healthy knows that exercise is one of the best strategies for sharpening your mental capacity.

Research shows that combining exercise with another brain-boosting lifestyle habit can give you even more mental clarity. We’re talking about improvements in your thinking abilities that can outstrip the benefits you get from exercise alone, along with some degree of protection against the memory-robbing effects of aging.

So read on to discover how to supercharge the performance of your brain's hard-working neurons and keep your cognitive abilities on track.

The Healthy Habit Combo for a Brainier Brain

According to research in Canada, combining exercises like resistance training and aerobics with cognitive training puts your brain on a faster track to significantly improve your brain power.

The 175 people in this 20-week Canadian study of people aged 65 to 80 years were suffering MCI (moderate cognitive impairment). MCI is a memory problem that entails experiencing more difficulties with memory and thinking processes than is normal for someone your age. It does not produce intellectual issues as severe as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but it can gradually get worse and may result in a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers discovered that combining cognitive training with aerobic exercises and resistance training results in better brain health and a stronger memory than any of those activities individually.1

The cognitive training in the research consisted of computerized tasks such as tapping a screen as fast as possible when certain shapes appear or identifying in what order certain animals are displayed on a screen. But playing a board game, reading, doing a crossword puzzle quickly, or even socializing could give your brain a similar workout.

The research participants exercised in three one-hour weekly sessions at a gym. First, they did strengthening/resistance exercises using machines and elastic bands. That was followed by around 20 minutes of cardio using treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and rowing machines.

What’s The Best Way To Get Started On An Exercise Program?

Experts unanimously recommend starting slowly and gently if you want to start a program like what these Canadians devised.

For instance, advice from the Mayo Clinic says for any exercise program you should “Start slow and go forward slowly.” You should only increase your physical activity by about ten percent a week as you progress. And if you’re worried about your health or have a medical condition, consult with a healthcare practitioner before you begin your program.2

If you’re wondering what the best time of day to do physical activity is, remember that any time you exercise is better than never exercising at all! But if you have gained a few pounds over the years or have diabetes, research shows that exercising later in the day may provide you with the most health benefits to your brain and body.

A study at the University of Sydney in Australia that looked at the health of 30,000 obese people and people with Type-2 diabetes over the span of eight years found that those who did moderate to vigorous aerobic activity in the evening – in the hours between 6 p.m. and midnight – experienced the lowest risk of early death and death from heart disease.3

But, as we pointed out before, the most important fact about getting up and moving around is that you do something instead of nothing – at any time of day that works for you. Your brain, as well as your heart and other organs, will be healthier. Then, do some mental activities as well, such as brain games or puzzles, reading, learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or whatever mental workouts you prefer.

  1. Montero-Odasso M, et al. “Effects of Exercise Alone or Combined With Cognitive Training and Vitamin D Supplementation to Improve Cognition in Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Clinical Trial” JAMA Netw Open 2023 Jul 3;6(7):e2324465.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Fitness program: 5 steps to get started.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20048269
  3. O’Neill M. “Working Out in the Evening Linked to Greater Health Benefits for People Who Have Obesity” health April 22, 2024 https://www.health.com/study-evening-exercise-obesity-8635890

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