28 Jan 2020, 20:54

How to improve your cognitive ability through exercise

It’s easy to de-prioritize exercise, especially with family and work commitments, but exercise plays an important role in your health, longevity, and success, both personally and professionally.

The physical health benefits of exercise are well documented, but not everyone is aware of the direct benefits it can have on your mental health and cognitive performance.

Exercise is associated with increased concentration, enhanced memory, faster learning, improved mood, and even enhanced creativity. It’s good for you and your employees’ overall well-being. It reduces your adrenaline and cortisol levels, your primary stress levels. It also causes the production of endorphins, which decrease our perceptions of pain and boost our happiness

Research has shown that people that commit to exercising regularly are more productive and have better relationships with family members and co-workers than workers who abstain from exercise.

So, use these four steps to build a successful exercise plan.

1. Warm-up

Always start any exercise session with a thorough warm-up. Especially as we start to get on a bit in age, a warm-up is essential to get your heart rate up and get your blood pumping. When you warm up your muscles before exercise, your muscles become more elastic, and you’re less likely to experience muscle or tendon tears or other injuries.

An example of a good warm-up would be to start with stretches, to make those muscles more supple, and then to do five minutes of jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, or lunges.

2. Aerobic exercise

Examples of aerobic or cardio exercise include activities like brisk walking, swimming, running, or cycling. The definition of aerobic exercise means “with oxygen.” Your breathing and heart rate will increase during aerobic activities.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.

The secret is to find an activity you enjoy and try to build it into your weekly routine. Joining a club or class will make you less likely to skip sessions.

3. Strength training

If possible, build in some strength training to your exercise regime. It doesn’t need to be intense weight training.  Jumping ropes, climbing stairs, and pull-ups are all great options. Remember that your bones are active and living, just like you. Like all living things, your bones will only get stronger (denser) when they are placed under regular stress.

4. Embrace stretching

Stretching is another important activity to incorporate into your exercise routine.  It’s great for retaining mobility and flexibility, especially in later life. You should select a variety of stretches that engage different muscle groups. Try to perform a combination of neck, shoulder, triceps, hamstring, quadriceps, calf, hip flexor, and lower back stretches. You should hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds and repeat each stretch at least twice. When you embrace stretching, you lengthen your muscles, decrease soreness, decrease recovery time, and reduce injuries.

Disclaimer - You should always consult with a doctor before undertaking a new exercise routine, especially if you are not in good health.

But no matter how fit or unfit you are currently, there’s an exercise routine for you that will help with your fitness and mental well-being.