The Best Workouts For Your Brain Are Super Simple To Get Into & Here's How To Get Started
It's no secret that working out on the reg benefits you physically and makes you feel strong AF. But the really incredible part about a consistent workout routine is how much it affects your brain and the positive effects it has on your mental health. Plus, the best workouts for your brain are probably exercises you've done before, because they're actually pretty common — so you might have been benefitting your noggin all this time, without even realizing it.
And, in case you're wondering, you don't need to force yourself to work out all day every day in order to reap those benefits. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Neurology revealed that people who exercised, on average, about three times a week over the course of a year showed significant improvements on an array of thinking and speed tests that were designed to challenge the mind. The participants also showed an increased ability in problem solving and information processing, simply from adding those three weekly workouts into their routine. I don't know about you, but this sh*t ~blows my mind~ and yes, that was a brain pun, people — deal with it. Anyway, this new research clearly shows that moving your body in ways that feel good can do truly amazing things for you over time, far beyond the physical results.
What's more, there are actually specific types of exercise you can do to benefit your brain. Dr. Joe Bates, a double board-certified M.D. and bestselling author of the book Making Your Brain Hum: 12 Weeks to a Smarter You, tells Elite Daily that an effective, brain-boosting workout entails any type of movement that demands your full attention. "Effective workouts should always be those you must think through and concentrate on to complete your routine, no matter how long your workout is," he says. "Have you ever noticed that when you really concentrate on something, you have less problems? Why? Because when you’re in the moment, you're totally engaged."
Truer words have never been spoken, guys. For full, noggin-nourishing potential, Dr. Bates recommends these five workouts, which will challenge your body and your mind, leaving your brain feeling sharper than ever.
1. Pump Your Brain Up By Dancing It Out
Bates says that when you're learning a routine and memorizing certain steps during a dance-based workout, you're challenging your cranium in a seriously significant way.
Plus, what's better than blasting some good old-fashioned High School Musical throwbacks and parading around in your room with nothing but your underwear on? Oh, is that just me? OK.
2. Soothe Your Mind With A Yoga Flow
Research done by the American Pain Society has shown that sticking to a consistent yoga practice can increase the amounts of healthy gray matter in the brains of people with chronic pain and depression, meaning it improves their ability to experience genuine happiness, more balanced emotions, and a higher pain tolerance.
Bates attributes these benefits to the act of slowing down that's integral to most yoga flows, as well as the experience of appreciating the subtle movements and strength of your body, which eventually translates to stronger brain power, too. Can I get a collective yasssss please!?
3. Challenge Your Cranium With A Boxing Sesh
Any workout that requires you to learn sequences, like boxing, are grade-A brain-boosters, according to Bates.
A boxing workout requires your total focus, attention, and presence, Harpers Bazaar reports. Plus, you'll be detoxing from the inside out not only by sweating your stuff, but also by releasing a hell of a lot of pent-up frustration. Seriously guys, punching stuff (not people, I'm not a violent person, I swear) feels damn good.
4. Awaken Your Headspace With Breathing Exercises
You might be thinking that breathing isn't much of a physical exercise at all, but according to Bates, controlled inhales and exhales require a ton of discipline, not to mention your full, undivided attention. "Not all brain exercise is what we think of as 'working out,'" Bates tells Elite Daily. "Breathing exercise is very physical and can help train the brain for [increased] clarity and focus."
Inhale, exhale, repeat. Got it?
5. Fire Up Your Noggin With Some HIIT
Who knew that when you were huffing and puffing during your burpee-infused HIIT circuit, you were actually fine-tuning the pathways in your noggin, too? "Within high-intensity interval training, your brain must really focus on the minute at hand," Bates says. "[You're] going all out and teaching your brain to really keep at a [certain] level of intensity, before resting."
Make sure to take your HIIT workout minute by minute, friends. That's the super simple key to having the healthiest brain around. See you on the (sticky) mat!