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The dual impact of brain + body exercise

Does your brain need exercise as much as your body? Does it bother you when you cannot recall a name? Do you have trouble remembering your grocery list? Do you ever forget what you walked into a room to get? These are daily thinking tasks that can become more difficult as we age. But, don’t let this get you down!

According to the National Institute on Aging, forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain.

While this is an admittedly eye-opening fact, there is encouraging research that suggests a unique and easy solution that leaves your mind sharp and your body energized, helping to protect your brain and body as you age. The trick? Working your mind and body at the same time.

Regular exercise combined with brain stimulation can combat cognitive decline, keeping our mind strong as we age into our 50s and well beyond.

The health benefits that exercise brings – better balance and coordination, increased cardiovascular strength, improved sleep and mood, and reduced risk of dementia – are well known. What is becoming more apparent is physical exercise combined with brain exercise can result in greater gains for cognitive function than physical activity or cognitive exercise alone.

A study from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, showed that those who got regular aerobic exercise had less frequent episodes of not being able to think of a word they wanted to say (or “tip-of-the-tongue episodes”) than similarly aged adults with poorer aerobic health.

 

The Brain is Like A Muscle … Use it or Lose It

Alison Weinlaeder, a clinical speech-language pathologist with expertise in treating disorders of language and thinking, warns about websites that claim to improve cognition without also incorporating physical activity.

“More and more research suggests that you could be making even greater gains for your brain’s long-term health if you engage in cognitive exercise while you work out your body,” Weinlaeder said.

In other words, protecting brain health across the lifespan means more than just sitting and clicking a mouse or tapping an iPad. The take-home message is simple: engaging in physical and cognitive exercise concurrently helps you age healthily.

These findings, combined with a desire to empower adults to take control of their cognitive and physical health, inspired Weinlaeder to create an innovative new home fitness program called Cardiomelon that pairs 20-30 minute long cardiovascular workouts with thinking tasks to engage the brain and body with one fitness tool. While there are countless home programs out there designed to keep your body healthy, Weinlaeder saw that there was no program with the dual purpose of brain and body fitness.

“We’ve seen a tremendous response to our online program since so many people are at home more now due to COVID-19,” Weinlaeder said. “It is important we continue to find ways to keep our brains and bodies active during social distancing. Do a puzzle, play a new board game, or go for a walk outside. Or, why not reap even greater benefits by doing thinking and physical exercises in tandem?”

Exercising the Brain + Body at the Same Time

How does one do this? Unless you have some super talent I haven’t discovered, playing a new board game while going for a walk outside is next to impossible.

Enter Cardiomelon. Designed specifically for adults over 50, Cardiomelon workouts combine physical and cognitive exercises all into one fun workout. Experienced trainers offer plenty of modifications for users who have mobility issues.

To give some examples of what a typical workout entails, you may be asked to:

  • name U.S. states starting with the letter “M” while doing crunches
  • do simple math while strengthening the upper body with modified pushups, or
  • recall a word list while you complete exercises to get your heart rate up and challenge your balance such as squats, alternating knee lifts, toe touches, mountain climbers, planks, and standing hamstring curls.

Aging is something to be celebrated and embraced, and successful aging shouldn’t be restricted by access.

Cardiomelon workouts are an easy-to-view and affordable way to improve your cardiovascular health while challenging your language, memory, and thinking skills from the comfort of home.

To learn more and try out a Cardiomelon workout for free visit www.cardiomelon.com. Memberships start at $10/month.

Lucy Emptage

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