Exercise is good for the brain. Exercise + Skill Acquisition is better.
When your fitness challenge includes a new skill, it makes your brain work harder to learn the skill while your body works to perform it. (Tomporowski, 2019)
This combination makes your brain come alive with new neuron growth. The combination of increased blood flow from exercise with the increased cognitive demand of learning something new provides enhanced brain health benefits.
It could be that creating a physical environment where there are more resources available in the brain (enhanced blood flow) to help build new connections while there is a skill challenge providing the stimulus to do so results in enhanced benefits.
Or it could be that the simultaneous increase in physical and mental demands makes both systems become more robust.
The exact mechanism may not yet be 100% quite clear, but the takeaway most certainly is.
Mindless, automatic exercise and motionless brain games cannot compare to the combination of a physical challenge and mental challenge/skill acquisition.
So you’ll definitely want to take a look at the latest Funtensity Challenge (see below.) And for that matter, all of the Funtensity Challenges (Scroll through the Funtensity social media feeds to find them or search with the hashtag #funtensitychallenge.)
A new one is posted about every two weeks and it is an ongoing challenge series unifying brain science and fitness training. The challenges will appear on the Funtensity social media platforms and use the hashtag #funtensitychallenge. The current one involves the Funtensity Rubber Chicken.
Tomporowski, P. D., & Pesce, C. (2019). Exercise, sports, and performance arts benefit cognition via a common process. Psychological Bulletin, 145(9), 929-951. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-31603-001