Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain and reduces inflammation. Try these easy moves at home or at the gym to fire up your brain.

By Karen Asp
Updated July 30, 2019

There's no doubt about it: Working up a sweat is good for our physical and mental health, particularly in the morning; it can also go a long way in preventing diseases like Alzheimer's. For a brain boost that's also easy on joints, add these four smart moves to your exercise routine. They help create new neural pathways because they’re challenging in their complexity and intensity, says Michael Gervais, creator of HeadStrong by Equinox, a brain-training workout. Gervais recommends doing these moves as a sequence, resting 30-60 seconds between each.

Image courtesy of Getty.

Lateral Weight Shift

Stand with feet 2–3 feet apart, toes turned out slightly. Shift body weight to the left, bending the knee slightly, then reach hands to the side, ceiling, or feet. Shift weight to right and repeat. Alternate sides for one minute, reaching out at different speeds.

Forearm Plank

Want to tone your arms and your core? Get on the floor on your knees and elbows, with elbows under shoulders and, if you can, hands clasped. Contracting your core, lift your knees off the floor so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Hold 30 seconds. Slowly build to two minutes.

Related: 10 Little Ways to Practice Mindfulness Every Day

Squat Jumps

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides. Bend knees until legs form 45-degree angles. Then jump up, raising arms above head. Go right into the next squat, doing as many as possible in 30-60 seconds. End standing tall with arms overhead in a V-shape. For a lower-impact version of this exercise, focus on the squat and skip the jump.

Bird Dog Crawl

Get on the floor on hands and knees, wrists under shoulders, knees below hips. Extend left arm forward until parallel with shoulders and right leg back and level with hips. Hold for three breaths. Now crawl sideways two to three times to right. Extend right arm and left leg; repeat crawl.

The best part about these moves is that they'll get the blood flowing to your brain and help you build strength without being too rough on your body. Plus, you can do them anywhere!

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