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If You Keep Forgetting Small Tasks, These 5 Exercises Can Improve Your Memory

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By Kirtika Karma Katira:

Do you know someone who has trouble learning new things, concentrating or remembering small daily routine tasks? Some people who suffer from cognitive diseases have difficulty even remembering their address, phone numbers, job, neighbours, etc. Their independence is lost as they are always dependent on a family member or a nurse. Such effects of cognitive impairment can affect their day to day life. Such people become more prone to depression, heart disease and stress. They are unable to make small decisions or answer simple questions.

Some cognitive diseases are dementia, amnesia, delirium, etc. Causes vary according to the different types of disorders, but mostly all of them affect our brain and memory. Treatments depend on the cause of the disease. There are several ways to reduce the risk of being affected by such diseases, exercising is one of them. Exercising can prevent us from cognitive impairment. As soon as we make a habit of exercising regularly, we get greater cognitive benefits. It improves our lifestyle. We stay healthy, mentally and physically. Just one hour of exercise every day can change our life drastically. We should not ignore our body’s needs and exercise is a basic need of our body, mind and soul. It purifies our mind and gives more clarity which results in more conscious decision-making abilities.

You can go to the gym or work out at home. Both are equally effective. Just get a mat, a free space and your dedication is the key. Sweating while exercising can eliminate toxins from our body. A good figure or body can bring confidence. Exercise makes your body toned and your mind calm. A walk in the park, jogging, breathing fresh air and skipping ropes are a few more ways in which you can exercise. Strength training, aerobics, yoga and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be beneficial in reducing risks of cognitive diseases. Exercising improves memory as the brain remembers more when the body is active. It sharpens focus, increases work performance and improves time management skills. Exercising has countless benefits. Let’s look at the various ways we can benefit from exercising and how we can reduce the risk of cognitive diseases.

Strength Training

Strength training not only makes our muscles stronger but is even beneficial for maintaining brain health, memory and preventing cognitive impairment. Start with a suitable weight dumbbell and lift weights or use a resistance band. It has a positive impact on brain functioning and it leads to a sustained memory. This exercise specialises in the use of resistance, resulting in muscular contractions which produce strength and muscles. While we do strength training, endorphins are released, which eliminates depression and anxiety. It also helps in producing norepinephrine which helps the brain to cope with stress. Body-building, power lifting, cross fit and power training are some examples of strength training.

Aerobics

Aerobics also improve our overall fitness, be it mind or body. It increases our heart rate and we breathe faster, as a result of which more oxygen is supplied to the heart. Dancing, aerobics, zumba, etc, keep our lungs, heart and circulatory system healthy. Aerobics can also lower the risk of cognitive diseases. Aerobics are sometimes called ‘cardio’. It pumps oxygenated blood into the heart. A lesser-known surprising fact about aerobics is that it slows down our ageing process, thus, keeping us young.

Image Credit: Prasad Gori/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) benefits our brain by promoting synaptic plasticity, neurogenesis and angiogenesis, thereby counteracting age-related cognitive impairment. It also improves metabolism. Lunges, butt kicks, arm circles, side bends, touch toes are some HIIT exercises.  HIIT exercises particularly increase something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is good for one’s brain. You can choose to do HIIT exercise on alternate days and mix-and-match it with low-intensity exercises or yoga on the other days to have a good balance between both of them. Focus on certain parts of your body once in a week for HIIT exercises. Don’t do these exercises twice for just one part of the body as it can strain that muscle or body part.

Yoga

Being physically active is what really benefits our brain. Yoga stretches our muscles and it helps our body stay in shape. It gives more flexibility to the body, giving freedom to move for any exercise or daily activity. It reduces depression, anxiety and stress. Yoga improves memory and reduces the risk of cognitive disease by stimulating and increasing the activity of neurotransmitters which blocks stress. Ten minutes of meditation with ten minutes of yoga can drastically reduce the risk of dementia or memory loss. Doing yoga and meditation regularly is a simple, safe and low-cost solution for improving our mental fitness. It increases flexibility and helps tone the body. It even improves respiration. You require a yoga mat to start, you also need focus, determination, discipline and concentration to achieve the difficult poses. Different asanas  are instructed to the student to reach a calm state of mind. A lesser known fact is that it keeps us away from diseases and it strengthens our immunity system.

Meditation

Meditation helps the mind to clear out any negativity and improve concentration. It has lots of benefits and most importantly, it is easy. You just need to find a calm place, sit straight and close your eyes. Recite a mantra or just pause your thoughts and relax your mind.

As people age, some suffer from cognitive diseases. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Similarly, to start exercising regularly is better than suffering from diseases later in life. Small changes can give big results. Choose a healthy lifestyle. Keep your mind and body active. Make a daily routine to exercise. Swimming and sports are also good ways to exercise. Choose a hobby, explore what you like to do in all the exercises and have fun doing it because it’s a step towards a long and healthy life. Don’t stress your body to work out more than your capability. Just do justice to your body, exercise a little but regularly. Challenge yourself by setting up short goals like three reps or four reps and reward yourself with a healthy fruit juice after you achieve it. Keep calm and work out.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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