5 Effective Exercises For A Better Brain Function

brain exercises

brain exercises

Can you really stop your memory from deteriorating?

What exercise can you do to have better brain function even at over 50?

“Who was I just telling this to… oh it will come to me later.”

I love to hear stories my patients share with me throughout the day.  At some point during our conversation, there will be a struggle to remember some details followed by one of these comments:


“Oh it will come to me later.”

“What was it… I was just telling someone this the other day.”

“I lost it, I don’t remember.”

After this moment many will joke, “Now if you have a treatment for that let me know!”

The truth is, we do have a treatment for that. 

Here’s an article from the Mayo Clinic about what are the best ways to prevent loss and improve memory. 

Numbers 1 and 7 might shock you.  

So I decided to expand on #1.

Exercise: The Brain’s Best Friend

Spoiler alert, EXERCISE is the #1 way to improve memory and focus. When we exercise, we’re not just toning our muscles and improving our cardiovascular health; we’re also nourishing our brains.

Research has proven exercise stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that enhance cognitive functions like memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Simply put, exercise acts as a mental fitness regimen, boosting your brainpower.

Now, let’s delve into why exercise stands out as the brain’s best friend. Here are some compelling reasons why breaking a sweat is like exercising your brain:

#1. Increased Blood Flow:

When you are exercise, your heart pumps more blood, including oxygen and nutrients, to your brain. This boost in circulation nourishes brain cells, helping them function optimally.

#2. Growth of New Brain Cells:

Exercise promotes the growth of new neurons (brain cells) in the hippocampus, a region crucial for learning and memory. This creation of new brain cells, called neurogenesis, enhances your cognitive abilities of focus and memory.

#3. Neurotransmitter Release:

Physical activity triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

#4. Improved Brain Structure:

Studies have shown that regular exercise can increase the size of certain brain structures, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which are associated with memory and executive function.

#5. Enhanced Brain Plasticity:

Exercise enhances brain plasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and rewire itself. This is essential for learning new skills and maintaining mental agility.

5 Types of Exercises that can sharpen your mind

Now that we’re convinced of exercise’s superpowers for the brain, you might wonder what types of exercises are best for keeping your mind sharp.

Here’s a handy breakdown:

#1. Aerobic Exercise:

Activities like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling get your heart rate up and are excellent for brain health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

#2. Strength Training:

Resistance exercises like weightlifting not only build strong muscles but also support cognitive function. Incorporate strength training at least two days a week.

# 3. Yoga and Tai Chi:

These mind-body practices improve balance, flexibility, and focus. They’re also fantastic for reducing stress, which can have a detrimental effect on the brain.

#4. Mindfulness Meditation:

While not a traditional form of exercise, mindfulness practices calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and enhance focus. Regular meditation sessions can work wonders for your mental clarity. 

For religious people, this can be daily prayer.

#5. Dance:

Dancing is not only fun but also a great way to challenge your brain with complex movements and sequences. Plus, it’s an excellent social activity, doubling its benefits.

The Exercise-Mindfulness Connection

We’ve talked about exercise’s physical benefits for the brain, but there’s another critical element to consider: the mindfulness that often accompanies physical activity.

When you’re engaged in exercising, be it a brisk walk or a yoga session, you’re in the moment. Your mind isn’t cluttered with worries about the past or future.

This state of mindfulness is akin to a mental detox, clearing away stress and distractions.

Additionally, exercising can be a form of meditation in motion. For example, during a run or walk, you might focus on your breathing and the rhythm of your steps, akin to traditional meditation practices.

This mindful approach enhances the cognitive benefits of exercise.

Making Exercise a Lifelong Habit

The thing about exercise is there’s a catch. To retain the mindful benefits of exercise, you have to be consistent. There is no “one-time” approach; it’s a lifestyle.

To make exercise a lifelong habit, consider these strategies:

#1. Choose Activities You Enjoy:

Find exercises that you genuinely love doing. When you enjoy it, it doesn’t feel like a chore.

#2. Set Realistic Goals:

Start small and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. This ensures that exercising remains enjoyable and sustainable.

#3. Mix It Up:

Variety is the spice of life, and it applies to exercise too. Try different activities to keep things interesting and challenge your brain in new ways.

#4. Socialize While You Are Exercising:

Combine social connections with physical activity by joining group classes or walking clubs. This not only makes exercising more enjoyable but also enhances its cognitive benefits.

#5. Make It a Routine:

Schedule your exercise sessions like appointments. Consistency is key to reaping the long-term rewards.

Conclusion: Embrace Exercises for a Sharper Mind

In closing, it’s clear that exercise is a powerhouse for maintaining a sharp and sparkling mind as you age. It’s not merely about looking good; it’s about feeling great and optimizing your mental capabilities.

By incorporating brain-boosting exercises into your routine, you’re investing in a richer, more fulfilling life.

So, as we embark on this journey of aging gracefully and vibrantly, remember that your body and mind are your most precious assets. Nourish them, challenge them, and watch as they reward you with a life that’s sharp, sparkling, and filled with limitless potential.

Stay active, stay curious, and stay tuned for more insights on your journey to living an active and joyful life over 50.


If you want to get started on your Fitness Journey, join our Fitness Program now and stay active!

For more related and knowledgeable articles:

Read Our Blog: How Physical Activities Impact Your Brain Function

Read Our Blog: Easy Yoga Stretches

Watch our Physical Therapy success stories to learn more about how we helped our patients have a better life:

Feeling a little clumsy? Watch how Michelle’s life changed with the help of physical therapy

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Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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