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Exercise & Fitness

Which is better for keeping your mind fit: physical or mental activity?

April 3, 2013

About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
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May 17, 2013

Both needs. I think the best way is the practice of the some sport or exercise. will keep your body and your mind healthy,

fire door exit
May 20, 2013

true it does need to be both. Balance is important

May 9, 2013

All from the hearth, it make me cry.

May 3, 2013

Excellent article. I truly believe that a balanced harmony of physical and mental fitness as well as spiritual fitness is necessary. The three factors work together to create and fulfill the potential in humans.

May 3, 2013

Both activity have positive effect on our brains. It led to belives that there would be a study clearly weighing the benfits of phyical activity over mental activity.

May 1, 2013

That’s both important in our body and into our life.

Dorothy Joseph

April 25, 2013

I think both are as equaly important it is keeping the right ballance because human nature help you decide to go for the easy option and if you enjoys both it is fantastic.

Olumide Oluwasegun
April 21, 2013

As for me, I will suggest that both kinds of activity are necessary but then the type of results wanted in a particular area will determine the kind of activity that will be given pre-eminence.

doctors in emerson
April 19, 2013

Yes It is very controversial to answer regarding the physical and mental fitness. I have gone through the results of the study and it is necessary to appreciate the efforts of the researchers.

April 16, 2013

This is funny. I was just debating a friend on this topic. I also felt like both exercising mentally and physically were both equally effective.


Song Mastering
April 16, 2013

I believe both physical and mental activity have positive effects on our brains. That said I am not the biggest fans of online brain games like Lumosity etc.

For me physical activity like sport of any kind, coupled with reading and keeping the mind active through maths, statistics, puzzles etc is the way to go for a healthy mind.

Music is also essential for our peace of mind. Do not underestimate the power that music can bring with regards to mental fitness.

Phat Mastering team.

Ronin Athletics
April 13, 2013

I agree with Heidi. This is a great post. In ours gym the goal of our Fundamentals Program is to build a strong foundation in all 3 phases of combat: Stand up, Clinch and Ground, so that a new student may feel comfortable and acquainted with the techniques and training methodologies that he/she will encounter in MMA training. Through our Fundamentals program the student will familiarize his/herself with each dimension of MMA and begin to develop themselves in areas that come naturally to them (Kickboxing, BJJ, Submission Grappling and Wrestling) and slowly form their individual ‘game’ or MMA fighting style. Specialized classes are then offered to compliment the students training, allowing them focused training in the combat phase they wish to improve.

Olivia Samuels
April 9, 2013

Hi, This is such an important subject. I have parents that are in their mid 70s and I can sometimes notice when they are not as alert or remember things as easily as they should. I notice this more if they are unwell. I have since been reading up on the subject of exercising the brain so that I can be a better daughter and help them.

I think that doing crossword puzzles are a very good for the brain. Learning another language will certainly help. I was so delighted when my mum said she was going to try and learn another language – I have been really encouraging her.

Our bodies need exercise when it is flabby and our brain is no different. We need to exercise our brain as well to keep this organ functioning in tip top condition.

I think as we get older we should engage in learning something new whether it be a hobby, like learning to knit or crochet or building a model plane. Learning something new at adult seniors education classes is also beneficial.

I think the secret is don’t be afraid to use your brain and learning something new. As your brain will become more exercised (like a workout at the gym) and will retain more elasticity and memory power the more you use it.

All the best,

April 8, 2013

Hello, while I enjoyed reading the article and agree that both physical and mental activity is important the title of the article is confusing. It led me to believe that there would be a study clearly weighing the benefits of physical activity over mental activity. Did this study have any control groups?

dental hygienist in training
April 8, 2013

Wow, this really opens up the ye to the whole mind over matter thing. I would have thought that exercising mentally would be better than physical activity for brain shrinkage.


April 8, 2013

i like to switch mental exercise with physical while not overdoing them. i’m a student and i spend most of my time in the library and i get so brain-drained at some point that i usually go for a 15-minute walk or a short session in the gym. That way i am productive the whole day without being too tired – mentally or physically!

so keep moving and dont stop exercising your brain!

engelia soei
April 6, 2013

not only a physical exercise, you need to pick a right food to shed more unhealthy fat.

rat poison
April 5, 2013

I think it would be best to do the same physical and mental fitness.

fire proof door
April 25, 2013

Yes both balance to the part is good..

April 5, 2013

Barka da yau(greetings in Hausa)I really enjoy your articles and derive a lot of value in taking care of myself employing suggestions therein. My problem is not being able to purchase any of the books prescribed such as those on exercises,feeding and strength and power training.However,I make do with the little you offer in the blogs.Thanks. Nagode.

Edith Steinberg
April 4, 2013

I was happy to meet all the nice people who contribute to our better health. I will be 93 in August, live alone for the last 14 years, my husband died in 1998. He too would have loved your newsletter.
I am reasonably healthy, have no major problems. Your information is of value to me sometime. Thank you for making our lives better.

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