Your brain plays a vital role in your overall health. Keeping it sharp and focused and working to improve your overall cognitive function is important.
On top of taking brain-specific supplements daily and eating foods that help boost the health of your brain, there are simple exercises you can practice.
Everyday Brain-Boosting Exercises
You probably already know that regular exercise is good for your overall health. But exercises like walking, aerobic activity, and strength training are also incredible for your brain’s health.
We’ll walk you through a few simple exercises you can do outside, at the gym, or from the comfort of your own home to help improve your focus and concentration.
Walking is great for your health and has been shown to boost your brain’s health, too. In fact, a 1989 study found that walking at least one mile a day helped improve overall brain volume. Since dementia and other cognitive diseases are linked to a decline in brain volume, making a mile walk one of your exercise goals can decrease your chances of developing a cognitive disorder by as much as 50%.
There are other benefits to walking daily, too, especially if you’re walking outdoors. Exposure to sunlight can help boost or maintain your vitamin D levels, which can lower your risk of developing mental disorders like depression and help elevate your mood.
And, these benefits improve if you can incorporate walking even more into your daily routine. For the best brain-boosting results, we recommend working up to walking 10,000 steps per day. That’s roughly 4-5 miles each day.
It’s actually easier than you might think. To get started, you first want to use a device that tracks your steps. You can invest in an electronic step counter or fitness device like a FitBit or Apple watch, but you don’t need to spend money to figure out how many steps you take.
Instead, you can download free apps, like Google Fit, to help calculate your steps. Or, you can count how many steps you walk in a minute at a leisurely pace and multiply that by the total time you spend on an outside walk. It may be a little less reliable than using an electronic counter, but it will be pretty accurate.
Here are some easy ways to get started and up your walking game:
1. Take your dog out for more frequent walks
If you have a pet, take them out for walks more often or increase the distance the two of you travel. This is an easy way to improve your connection with your pet while also boosting your steps.
2. Walk instead of drive
If you live in a city, it’s a little easier to follow this tip, but there are likely times when you can incorporate it into your routine regardless of where you live.
Instead of jumping in your car to run to the convenience store a few blocks away, go for a walk.
Live near a restaurant you enjoy? Walk there and back to pick up your food.
The goal is to add walking into your routine more naturally, without making it a chore.
3. Plan daily walks
Going for a daily walk once a day can help get you in the habit of walking and allow you to work up to 10,000 steps. To get started, plan on walking once during the day, whether in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
If you work from home, this may be a little easier to fit into your schedule. But even if you go to the office for work each day, it’s not impossible. Consider walking for a half hour during your lunch break, or going for quick walks on 15-minute breaks.
You’ll likely find your energy and mood improve each time you break up your day with a brief walk.
4. Make walking a group activity
To really commit to your goal, consider walking with your partner or inviting friends to walk with you. Not only will another person keep you more accountable, but it can also provide you with valuable social bonding time.
2. Aerobic exercise
While walking is a great aerobic exercise, it’s not the only one. Running, jumping, swimming, sprinting, and high-energy exercise routines like high-intensity interval training (HiiT) are all forms of aerobic exercise.
Incorporating aerobic exercises beyond walking into your routine can provide a wealth of brain benefits while also improving your overall health.
Studies show that regular aerobic exercise helps to improve function in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s responsible for learning and verbal memory.
Aerobic exercise also helps to keep you fit and in shape. And the fitter you are, the better your brain will perform—and the lower your chances of developing a cognitive disorder or disease.
Adding more aerobic exercise to your routine may feel daunting, but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it.
First, decide which exercise you want to incorporate. If you enjoy running, consider adding 15- to 30-minute runs to your daily or weekly routine. If you can’t commit to an exercise daily, even adding it in 3-4 times a week will offer helpful, noticeable benefits.
If you’re not sure where to start, it’s time to explore. If running isn’t your thing, you could try a variety of aerobic machines at your gym, like the elliptical, which is easier on knees and joints than the treadmill.
Or, you can keep it simple. Set a timer for 15 minutes and try out a variety of aerobic moves, from jumping jacks to jump rope. You can also find YouTube videos with aerobic exercises that allow you to move along with the trainer.
Stick with the search until you find the aerobic exercise that leaves you feeling energized and recharged.
3. Strength training
Lastly, incorporating strength training into your routine can provide helpful benefits to your brain.
A recent study found that cognitive performance improved when strength training was added to exercise routines.
Strength training may sound difficult, but growing muscles and keeping your body fit is important. And there are plenty of strength training activities that you may find you enjoy more than you expect.
Sure, you can dive into a rigid strength training routine with weights and a timer. But you can also think outside the box and try your hand at gardening, which involves digging and moving bricks and stones, or even heavy cleaning, which could involve regularly moving heavy furniture and objects.
You can also set a timer for 15-30 minutes and try out as many strength training moves as you can. You can start with your own body weight (push-ups and planks, for example) and move up to using weights or heavier objects. If you don’t have weights, full water bottles or cans work well in a pinch.
Follow along with YouTube videos or incorporate your favorite moves into regular cleaning routines.
For adding stress benefits, consider practicing yoga to better clear your mind, reduce stress, and build up your body strength.
Next up, I’ll go to noted certified personal trainer Rick Hunter for some of his favorite strength-and-aerobic moves that can help boost your brainpower.
Personal Trainer Rick Hunter’s High Intensity Interval Training Routine to Boost Your Brain In 7 Minutes or Less
You and I both probably feel like we “don’t have enough time for exercise” these days.
I hear you; but the reality is that if something is truly important to you, you’ll make some time to address it.
What could be more important than your health?
I’m not saying that you have to become a “gym rat,” or chain yourself to the treadmill to see results.
Here’s what Personal Trainer Rick Hunter has to say about one of his favorite ways to get busy clients in shape:
“As a personal trainer, it’s my expert opinion that the fastest and easiest way to lose fat and put on muscle is via something called “High Intensity Interval Training” or “HIIT.”
All HIIT means is that you’re going to go really hard at an exercise for about a minute, and then rest for a bit longer.
Then you rest for a similarly short period of time, and move on to a different exercise.
And with just a few minutes a day, a proper HIIT routine can prevent fat storage and start building muscle.”
Rick contributed the following HIIT routine that you can use in as little as 15 minutes per day to boost your brain (and get in shape too).
The best part is that as your fitness level progresses, you can increase the amount of time per exercise per the program Rick has included at the end.
If you’re not familiar with burpees, here’s a step-by-step guide:
Start standing straight with your feet shoulder-length apart
Lean forward and place your hands on the floor, keeping your back as straight as possible
Extend your legs backward until you’re in “push-up/plank position”
Come back into a similar position to Step 2, with your hands on the floor and your knees bent
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms hanging down
f) Finally, jump up, lifting your arms up over your head.
That’s a burpee, which is a great “HIIT” exercise that burns fat, builds muscle and increases stamina.
2) Star Jumpers
Start in a squatting position:
Then you’re going to raise your arms above your head as you jump off the ground. Spread your legs out wide.
It’s essentially like you’re doing a leaping jumping jack:
Then return to a resting position:
Squats are great for building up your leg (and to a lesser extent, back) muscles.
That’s important because these are some of the largest in your body, and when you work them, they produce a ton of growth hormone.
That means better muscle growth and definition, and increased fat loss more quickly for you.
Here’s how to do a perfect squat:
Start with your legs about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent:
Bend your knees and lower your bottom. You want your thighs to be as close to parallel with the ground as possible. If you’d like, you can put your arms out in front of you for increased balance:
Then push up with your hamstrings and quads until you’re back at resting position again. That’s one squat:
4) “Stiff-Leg Romanian Dead-Lift”
This is a simple 2-step process.
First, stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width, holding weights out in front of your legs.
Next, bend forward at the knees, making sure to keep your back as straight as possible.
Here’s how to keep your back straight:
This exercise is very simple and extremely effective.
If you don’t have weights, you can fill a couple of milk jugs with water.
5) Push Ups
A lot of people simply don’t know how to do “perfect” push-ups. When they don’t they cheat themselves out of seeing maximum results for all of their hard work.
That’s not going to be you though--after this short primer, you’ll know how to do “perfect” push-ups to get maximum muscle gain and fat loss in minimal time.
Start in a resting position on the ground with your hands pushing on the floor:
Contrary to popular belief, you want to actually raise your bottom up a bit off the ground. You do not want to do this in a way that it’s pointed “straight up” though.
Instead, you want to “cock” your hips so that the movement works both the pecs and the shoulders:
Your lower back should be coiled like a spring.
Next, push all the way up, keeping your back flat:
Finally, return to position 2. Your chest should go all the way down to the ground, and your hips should almost touch the ground:
Push-ups are great, and you can do them pretty much anywhere.
The Routine - Works Even If You Have 3 Minutes
If you don’t have much time, I’d suggest doing what Rick calls “Stacking Even Sets.”
Here’s how it works:
1) Pick 4 out of the 5 exercises above.
2) Start by doing 2 reps of each exercise, for a total of 8 reps.
For example, you could do:
2 star jumpers
Then restart the cycle, but increase your reps by 2.
So second time around, it would be:
4 star jumpers
Then 6 of each, then 8 of each, etc.
Set a timer and get as far as you can within the 3 minutes allotted.
Then rest for 3 minutes.
Start with one “set” of these–you will be winded by the end!
As you get more used to them, you can move on to 2, and then 3 sets.
In all, you’ll spend less than 20 minutes on 3 sets.
And you have at least one extra exercise you can add in to vary your routine.
Do this routine at least three times per week, and you’ll notice a difference in your mental clarity and mental energy.
(You may also notice your clothes start to fit a little more loosely too as an added benefit!)
I hope you enjoyed these simple brain boosting exercises. Practice these easy moves daily to start your day happier, healthier, and clearer. We trust you've relished these effortless brain-boosting exercises, invigorating your mind and spirit. Now, imagine supercharging your cognitive vitality further by introducing Total Brain Boost supplements to your daily regimen. Embrace the day with heightened clarity, enhanced focus, and a profound sense of well-being. A harmonious fusion of exercise and Total Brain Boost awaits, promising a brighter, healthier, and more vibrant you.