Exercise and Its Brain Boosting Power

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Exercise and Its Brain Boosting Power:

New research has proved the positive effects of exercise on children’s brains and there is now mounting evidence that fitness can improve memory, mood and IQ for adults as well.

What’s the best way to boost your physical and mental fitness?

Which Group Do you Fit Into?

Under 12s:
Recent research programmes have demonstrated that aerobic fitness is linked to improved performance in reading and maths and suggests that physical activity can also have a beneficial effect on children who suffer from ADHD.
Best approach for this age group? Walking or cycling to school, and about an hour of start-stop activities such as netball, football or rounders is ideal as it suits the under-developed aerobic systems at this age.

Teenagers:
A recent Swedish study involving 1.2 million buys demonstrated that the fitter they were, the better they performed in IQ tests.
Best Approach? Sports that involve fast and slow running are best suited to this age group, such as football, netball, hockey, rugby, GAA sports and tennis, ideally 3 to 4 times a week, swimming and cycling are also useful sports to improve cardiovascular health, whilst yoga was found to be beneficial in reducing stress levels and improving concentration.

Pregnancy:
Research suggests that ante-natal exercise is beneficial for both the unborn baby and mother. Psychologists at the University of Western Ontario found that regular exercise during pregnancy helps to prevent mood swings whilst moderate exercise was also demonstrated as beneficial for balancing sleep patterns.
Best Approach? Walking and swimming are recommended whilst heavy weight training is not recommended, however, resistance bands can be used to maintain strength and appropriate yoga and pilates moves are ideal. Guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, but listen to your body and take time off if you need it.

Mid-Life:
Research supports the benefit of exercise to counter depression and aerobic exercise, running in particular, can boost mood elevation the most.
Best Approach? Running and weights to improve short-term memory. Walking and cycling are good alternatives if running is not your chosen exercise. A minimum of 20 minutes daily is recommended but try to vary your exercise regime, avoiding consecutive days of the same activity.

Menopause:
The benefits of exercise to counteract the loss of oestrogens and maintain healthy bones is clear.
A moderate walk of 40-90 minutes as well as regular stretching or yoga has been shown to be useful in reducing menopausal symptoms such as depression, fatigue, mood swings and anxiety.

Sixty-plus:
Daily activity to maintain cognitive function and memory is recommended.
Best Approach? A mix of weights, walking and yoga every day, trying a range of activities, limiting the more intense ones to non-consecutive days. (Weight training twice weekly and yoga three times weekly).

Kate Hayes

Author: Kate Hayes

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