With gyms closed and team sports on hold, it’s easy to become bored or stuck in an exercise rut amid COVID-19. Trying new moves can give your brain and body a much-needed health boost.
As states begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions and we approach the end of full-scale lockdowns, some of my clients have complained of a mental sluggishness. Many (myself included) admit that hours of Netflix and snacking have taken their toll.
Brains, like bodies, need new challenges to grow and adapt. It’s why I have been tasking my clients with more complex workouts; daring them to enrol in online classes that challenge their minds as much as their muscles. Many find new enthusiasm when they slip on dance shoes, roll out their yoga mats or glove up. This is not just a fun and healthy way to move – there are neuroscientific benefits behind exercise that demands mind-body precision.
Just as muscles diminish and bones become frail if we do not keep using them in old age, your brain can deteriorate with lack of use. Most people experience decreases in brain volume (grey matter), and the weakening of neurotransmitter systems that communicate information (white matter) as they age. While we can’t completely avoid these changes, evidence suggests we can delay their onset.