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Multiple studies have found that exercise even helps the brain grow, adding volume to the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal cortex, which control thinking and memory. To get these benefits, you need to make exercise a regular part of your routine, although you don’t necessarily need to sweat every day. One study found that women who walked briskly for just one hour twice a week achieved increased brain volume over six months to a year. If you can’t spare whole hours, you can break that time up into shorter sessions to get results. In an article for Harvard Medical School, Heidi Godman writes that just about any moderate-level exercise will do. She recommends swimming, stair climbing, tennis, dancing, or even chores like mopping floors or raking leaves — pretty much anything that gets your heart pumping. To hold yourself accountable, try partnering up with a friend, keeping a journal of your progress, or hiring a personal trainer. “Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit, like taking a prescription medication,” Godman writes. “After all, they say that exercise is medicine, and that can go on the top of anyone’s list of reasons to work out.” The next time you find yourself struggling with brain fog or worrying about your memory declining in old age, instead of focusing on those negatives, try packing a bag and hitting the gym. If it works for the mice, it just might work for you, too!
from exercise. Now, pharmaceutical companies can use that insight to formulate drugs for Alzheimer’s that raise BDNF.
Until those drugs arrive, though, exercise alone might help prevent or heal memory loss. As Dr. Jonathan Graff-Radford puts it in an article for the Mayo Clinic, “Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function, have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly have improved thinking among people with vascular cognitive impairment.”
Should You Skip Your Workout if You Don’t Feel Well? Why Some Exercise Is Beneficial When You’re Sick
Getting sick is terrible, especially if you’re trying to stick to a consistent workout routine. You may think sickness means more rest days — but in fact, depending on your symptoms, continuing to exercise could be a good thing. While it may seem like common sense to avoid exerting yourself too much when you’re feeling under the weather, the effects of exercising while you’re sick are a bit more nuanced than you think. If you’re sick and trying to decide if you should try to get a workout in, assess where you feel your symptoms. Are they only above the neck? Or are they above and below the neck? Symptoms of a head cold, such as a runny nose, a mildly sore throat, and some congestion, shouldn’t keep you from exercising. At the very worst, you might just have to cut back the intensity of your workout. If you usually go for a run, try decreasing the time of your run or going for a walk instead. There’s actually evidence that exercise can help alleviate symptoms located above the neck when you’re sick. For instance, walking and jogging can help clear up congested nasal passages. Many runners will attest to the fact that their workout actually helps them feel better when they’re sick. There’s also evidence that yoga can boost your immune system and ease aches related to sinus issues. Saying “om”
might even help too, as one study found humming could actually aid in opening clogged sinuses.
If you have a fever or any type of stomach problem, however, you should skip your workout altogether. And if your workouts seem to exacerbate your sickness, take a break until the sickness subsides. That said, it’s nice to know that it takes more than a little case of the sniffles to throw off your workout routine!
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