What if someone told you the one exercise you used to hate in gym class could be the answer to years of sharper brain health? You might think they’re crazy, but they’re not. Jumping jacks, the exercise you’ve probably done since you first knew what exercise was, may reduce your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Here’s why.
Jumping jacks are good for your brain. | Mike Powell/Getty Images
Exercise plays a major role in bodily function
The results are in: For years, doctors have praised daily exercise for its ability to add years to your life. A moderate workout for 30 minutes each day can keep your heart in top shape, which grows your lifespan and puts you at a lower risk for many diseases. Exercise also keeps you at a healthy weight, which contributes to a lesser risk of disease. Exercise can ward off diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even certain types of cancer. It helps keep your muscles and bones, strong, too, which means you’ll still be able to walk properly and stay active through the later years of life.
Good cardiovascular health may reduce dementia risk by nearly 90%
Besides having physical health benefits, cardio exercise also has mental health benefits. It releases feel-good hormones that can tackle the effects of anxiety and depression. It’s therapeutic for your brain, but it also provides another brain benefit — a sharper mind. According to a 2018 study published in the medical journal Neurology, women who were in good cardiovascular shape (meaning they exercised their heart regularly) slashed their chances of getting dementia by nearly 90%.
Dementia strikes women more than it strikes men, so the findings are provide an exciting outlook. The study shows that a heart kept in good shape can do far more than just prevent a heart attack — it can actually protect your brain.
Jumping jacks are a total-body workout with a cardio focus
When you think of a cardio workout, running is likely the first thing to come to mind. However, there are many other types of workouts that are extremely beneficial — jumping jacks are just one, and they’re a total-body workout that serves more than one purpose.
Jumping jacks get your heart rate up, so they’re an excellent cardiovascular workout. 30 minutes of rigorous calisthenics, such as jumping jacks, will help you burn about 472 calories, which is far more than you’ll burn during a 30-minute walk. But in addition to pumping up that heart rate, they also provide important strength training.
Since jumping jacks have a far more rigorous effect on your heart than walking, they’re an excellent cardio option. They can seriously improve brain health, keeping your memory on point and your mind sharp as a pin for decades to come.
Jumping jacks are a good start, but other cardio exercise should be done, too
Jumping jacks are an excellent way to prevent serious brain deterioration down the road. But you can also incorporate other heart-pumping calisthenics into your daily life, too, to switch things up a bit.
While walking is a good cardio workout, you only burn about 75 calories per mile. If you can walk three miles in an hour, you’ve burned less than half the number of calories that jumping jacks would burn in 30 minutes. If you’re looking for a great way to get your heart healthy and also benefit your brain, don’t count jumping jacks out.
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