There are plenty of reasons to stay in shape as you get older: it can help maintain a healthy weight and keep muscles strong. Now, Consumer Reports says a growing body of evidence suggests that keeping yourself physically fit, may also help you stay mentally sharp.
Want to build brainpower? A growing body of evidence suggests working out may help.
"Most of the research shows that aerobic exercise has huge benefits for your brain health as well as your heart health. But we're also starting to see some studies, beginning to show that other types of exercise can really benefit your brain as you age," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Catherine Roberts.
Step one? That first step! A 30-minute walk, five days a week, will help you meet the minimum CDC recommendations for older adults, but one study links the biggest boost in brainpower to longer sessions of 45 minutes to an hour.
And if you can, pick up your pace. Getting your heart rate up seems to maximize the cognitive benefits. But it's not just about aerobics.
"One study that looked at older women, found that those who had stronger, more powerful legs, actually retained more of their brain's grey matter, which could be a sign of more robust cognitive health, as you age," Roberts said.
If you're steady on your feet, try standing up without using your hands. Then do it again. Try squeezing in a few repetitions in, during commercial breaks!
The Chinese martial art of Tai Chi also appears to benefit your brain. It's low impact, easy on your joints and a particularly good choice for people who are new to working out or aren't as mobile.
Consumer Reports also suggests considering joining a class. Group programs incorporating resistance and aerobic training have also been shown to be beneficial for your brain. Just remember to talk with your doctor before you start any new exercise program.
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