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Run, Walk, Dance or Skip-Why Movement matters for your Noggin

“I’m so sorry, I’ve forgotten your name…”

Have you ever had that experience of being introduced to someone and before you have even finished your next sentence you have totally forgotten their name ? Whilst zoom kindly helps us avoid that by having names displayed at the bottom of each person’s screen box, it won’t be too long (hopefully) before we are back out into some sort of real world and having to meet people face to face, or at least mask to mask 

Is that normal? 

Forgetfulitis happens to us all.  The more plates we are spinning at one time can mean that we find it hard to pay attention to details and are increasingly likely to forget stuff. Combine that with stress and not sleeping properly is it any  wonder we can’t remember where we put the keys. 

Move your feet, shake your brain cells 

Aerobic – heart racing blood pumping – exercise can help us with our memory. Exercising helps with the release of brain cell supporting chemicals that can help build new brain cells in the parts of the brain that are important for filing and storing our long term memories. It is never too early or late to start-a study from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease looked at the impact of different types of exercise in a group of people considered at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. They found that memory score results improved by over 40% in those who participated in regular aerobic exercise versus regular stretching. 

There is no I in team

Whilst all movement and exercise is important for brain health, playing in team sports appears to have added benefits for the efficiency of how our brains work as we age. A report looked at 80 studies that had explored different types of exercise and how they impact our cognitive abilities. All movement and exercise matters but it seemed that playing a team sport had the most marked benefit to how our brain ticks. Sebastian Ludyga PhD co wrote the report and states that playing even in partnership is particularly helpful as it means our brains have to process and react to ‘the somewhat unpredictable movements of our teammates or opponents’ .  

Move more, feel better

When we exercise our brain releases feel-good chemicals endorphins as well as neurotransmitters which helps regulate our mood, sleep and appetite, including serotonin. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly are less likely to report depressive symptoms. Regular exercise also helps with our sleep routines and this in itself is crucially important for our mood, energy levels and can help our memory. 

The bottom line? Getting active regularly, in whatever form you enjoy, can actually change the structure and help improve the function of our brain at any age. 

Keep Well

Dr Clara Russell