4 Fun Summer Activities to Boost Cognitive Function

Summer is a great time to engage in activities that can benefit your brain health. There are many different activities you can do, such as hiking, swimming, playing outdoor games, and more. These activities can help improve your memory, cognitive function, and immune response, and even help balance your mood!

One of the best things you can do for your brain is to engage in regular physical activity. Physical activity can help you think, learn, problem-solve, and enjoy a more balanced emotional state. Did you know that adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity weekly or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity? (Don’t worry, you can break this up into smaller bouts that add up throughout the week.)

There are many fun ways to be physically active during the summer. We compiled a short list of ideas and discuss how they benefit your cognitive well-being and brain health, so keep reading to get started!

  1. Dancing — Turning up the music at home and dancing can be a fun way to be physically active, and it can enhance your memory, cognitive function, and mood by stimulating different brain regions and neural pathways. A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered that dance can decidedly improve brain health. Dancing helps reduce stress, increase serotonin levels, and develop new neural connections. Dancing also involves blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory and proprioception, which are held in the cerebellum. Regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week can maximize your brain's function. So turn up the music and show off your best dance moves to improve your brain health!

  2. Taking Active Breaks — Breaking up sedentary time with physical activity can help refresh the mind, replenish mental resources, and increase productivity and creativity according to a recent study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic. Breaking up sedentary time with physical activity can help improve cognitive function by influencing various factors such as glycaemic variability, autonomic stability, hormone levels (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, dopamine, serotonin), vascular functions, and cerebral blood flow. So get creative and have fun! For example, you could challenge yourself with games or goals to squat or march in place between programs while watching television, park in the back of the parking lot for a further walk to the store (or jog/run if you’re feeling enthusiastic), or use the stairs instead of the elevator. Simple activities like these provide numerous benefits for cognitive well-being and better brain health.

  3. Walking The Dog — Dogs are great walking companions and can help you have an active lifestyle which by default can help improve your brain health in several ways. Walking your dog can provide social interaction and exposure to nature, both of which have been shown to have positive effects on mental health. In addition, walking your dog can help reduce stress and increase your serotonin levels, both of which can benefit brain health. So yes, something as simple as walking your dog can not only be fun and enjoyable but also provide numerous benefits for cognitive well-being and brain health. If you don’t have a dog, let this be your sign to head to the local animal rescue and adopt your next best friend and health partner!

  4. Exercise With A Friend — Activities like running, jogging, biking, hiking, or swimming (who doesn’t love to swim when it’s hot out?) get your heart rate up which makes them the best exercises for your brain. Exercising with a friend can make the activity more enjoyable, provide social interaction, and motivation, and help improve your mood. Did you know that regular exercise can actually increase the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning? So choose an aerobic exercise that you find fun, if you enjoy the activity, you’re more likely to stick with it and will get the added benefit of better brain health and improved cognition too!

Activities like these can help improve memory, cognitive function, immune response, and mood balance. In addition to physical activity, there are other things you can do to boost your brain health such as eating a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, which can benefit your brain. You can also focus on getting plenty of sleep, staying mentally active by doing things like crossword puzzles or Sudoku, and adding in supplementation to shore up nutritional deficiencies and boost your cognition.

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