Just how much exercise do we need to keep brain healthy?
EVERY day in every way we should all be keeping active, even if it's just a little bit and little bit there. But, to keep our brain healthy for longer, we need to put a bit more effort in.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne, led by Professor Nicola Lautenschlager, have found that exercise can improve brain function in people who are concerned about their memory or have slight memory decline, and can reduce the risk of further decline.
They recommend we use the following to help our mental and physical health -
- Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate or 90 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity. This should be combined with trying to be physically active during daily tasks.
Moderate is defined as a level of intensity at which one starts to sweat and needs to breathe a bit harder (like fast walking, swimming or bike riding).
Vigorous is more intense and involves feeling out of breath (activities could include running, very fast swimming or aerobic exercise in the gym).
- Perform additional resistance training (also known as strength training) at least twice a week. This should also be combined with daily tasks that help improve muscle strength.
- Undertake activities that help improve or maintain balance and reduce the risk of falls, such as walking heel-to-toe or rocking onto heels and toes (ensuring safety by doing exercises near a table or a chair).
- Talk to a GP (or physiotherapist or exercise physiologist) before changing your physical activity routine to ensure that your plan is safe and takes your medical history into account.
- Because getting started and staying motivated can be hard when it comes to exercising, select enjoyable activities, exercising in a group or with friends, and keep a diary to track your progress.
And remember, it's a good idea to gradually build up your physical activities over time.