How to Improve Brain Function with Exercise

Have you ever secretly wanted to learn to tango? Ballroom dance? Salsa? The research shows you should do it… for your brain.

Want to improve your brain function?  One Harvard study revealed that the activity that gives you biggest boost to your brain is dancing. The study tracked 469 people over age 75, starting in 1980. The researchers measured how often they participated in certain leisure activities. As the participants aged, researchers tracked how many people developed dementia. Of all the activities, dancing demonstrated the most mental benefit, showing that it lowered the risk of dementia by 76 percent. Of all the physical activities, dancing involved the most focus and concentration.

Another type of mental/physical activity that shows great promise for patients diagnosed with early dementia is martial arts such as qigong (chee-gong) and Taiji.

Just like dance, these exercises require you to focus and concentrate, applying your mind and your body. In addition, some forms of qigong have been developed for specific health benefits.

One study with volunteers who already had early dementia found that learning qigong and Taiji increased cognitive, psychological and physical improvement beyond subjects with dementia who did not practice the exercise.

The martial arts appeared to improve brain cell function and possibly lead to the growth new brain cells. The study participants were so much happier when they were in the treatment group that the program ended up being extended for three years past the study ending.

Your brain wants to be challenged, so go out and hit the dance floor, or try a martial arts class. You’ll not only have fun getting good exercise, but give your brain something to think about.

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