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Let's get physical!

Decades of research show that regular exercise is not just great for keeping your body in shape but also for your brain. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, lower stress levels, improve focus, concentration, and memory, protect your brain against decline, and even help to grow new brain cells.

There are lots of different types of exercise, and lots of different exercises within those groups that can benefit your brain health, your mental health, and your physical health in different ways

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Aerobic or cardio health helps bring more oxygen into your body, to your muscles, and your brain. The many benefits of cardio exercise include increasing your stamina and fitness, strengthening your immune system, helping to manage chronic conditions, strengthening your heart, keeping your arteries clear, boosting your mood, and helping you to live longer.

Resistance exercise or training, also known as strength or weight training, helps you to build and maintain muscle. It can help to build strength and burn calories, help reduce belly fat, decrease your risk of falls, improve your recovery from illness or injury, improve your heart health, manage your blood sugar levels, improve your mobility, and boost your self-esteem.

Strength training has also been shown to improve brain health, to help ward of cognitive decline, and to slow the effects of aging.

Flexibility training, and especially things like yoga, can improve blood flow through your muscles and your brain, help strengthen your joints, reduce the risk of injury, increase performance, and help improve daily activities.

Yoga especially has been shown to improve brain function, learning and memory abilities, and strengthen the parts of the brain associated with attention, awareness, thinking, and language.

And stability training, which often includes a mixture of the other three, can also help ward off injury and illness, and help you recover faster. It can also help to improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and ward of cognitive decline and other risks associated with aging.

How Different Exercises Can Help

The simple act of walking, and the more the better, can trigger more than a dozen brain, mental, and physical health benefits. Apart from helping you to manage your weight, it can help with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

It can help improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve muscle endurance, increase your energy levels, improve your mood, cognition, memory, and reduce stress.

So how much is recommended? According to the Department of Health and human resources, most people should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, or 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic activity.

Swimming is also a great all-around exercise, and especially for your brain health. It can help with body weight, strengthen your heart muscle, strengthen your lungs so you can bring in more body and brain essential oxygen, and can help with sleep.

It can also help improve breathing techniques, put you in a better mood, and even help boost brainpower. Some studies have shown improved memory and cognitive function with people who swim regularly.

And like most exercises, swimming is a great way to separate you from stress and the things that cause it.

And a handful of exercises also help to trigger something called neurogenesis. The ability of the brain to grow yet more brain cells to help compensate for those that we lose over time, maybe because of stress or just age.

There’s growing evidence to suggest that intense aerobic exercises like running help the brain to “bulk up” on brain cells by triggering the brain to create new neurons.