November 14, 2016

Another Reason to Try Yoga

yogaOne of the best things you can do to maintain your brain health is to follow a consistent exercise routine. Experts recommend balance and flexibility exercises several times a week. Yoga encompasses many brain health benefits and can be adjusted to any ability. So grab your mat and begin to experience the many health benefits of yoga.  Your “downward dog” may help keep your brain and body performing at it’s best.

Why Exercise?

Many brain functions, like memory, decline as you age. It may seem inevitable, but there are plenty of things you can do now to possibly slow down that decline. Evidence repeatedly suggests exercise among the most important things a person can do to keep their brain healthy. Walking, dancing, gardening and other types of physical activity can help lower the risk of dementia. Living a sedentary lifestyle without exercise or movement is a risk factor for dementia. Combining physical exercise with meditation  can further intensify the health benefits by also improving your mood and aiding relaxation.

Why Yoga?

At the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers studied yoga health benefits. The results of the study showed weekly yoga and meditation might protect your thinking skills and possibly reduce the risk of mental decline. The UCLA study examined the brain health of 29 older adults with early signs of memory loss and a concern about their brain function.

The participants underwent an initial brain scan and then were divided into two groups. The first group completed a brain training program by attending one hour of time in the classroom and 15 minutes a day of mental exercises at home. The other group did a session of beginner’s yoga for 15 minutes a day. Their program lasted twelve weeks.

At the end of the program, the participants returned for another brain scan and cognitive tests. All participants performed better on their thinking tests, but those who did yoga also showed improvements in their moods. Yoga participants were less likely to be at risk for depression and maintained more brain functions like attention, focus and multitasking. Their improvement in mood and focus could be attributed to reduced stress hormones and anxiety. The study showed combining meditation with movement can improve brain function and mood.

Why wait?

Grab your mat and get started. Yoga is a great activity to incorporate in your life. It’s never too late to start as there are many different levels and types of yoga available at most recreational centers or gyms. See how yoga can improve your Brain Health Index by visiting HealthyBrains.org .

Namaste.