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 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 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.
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.
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 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.