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Originally published Monday, December 27, 2010 at 7:33 PM

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How to exercise your brain and body

Some workouts that may be particularly helpful to brain health:

Daily Press (Newport News, Va

Physical exercise isn't just good for your heart and muscles. "Any kind of exercise will keep blood flowing to your brain, and there is evidence it may help new brain cells grow," says Gino Colombara, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter.

Here are some workouts that may be particularly helpful to brain health:

Take a dance class. You'll be increasing your heart rate and also challenging your brain as you learn various steps. Tai chi, karate or step aerobics — or any class that's new to you — will have the same benefits.

Do some circuit training. The quick alternation between resistance and cardio will force you to work on both memory and coordination.

Go to a group class. Keeping up social connections also boosts brain health, according to the Alzheimer's Association. So after a workout, invite a fellow exerciser out for some coffee.

Sign up for yoga. The deep breathing will deliver a good dose of oxygen to your brain, and the learning curve for new moves is a mental challenge.

Lift weights. Strength training requires concentration and focus. It also builds muscle, which improves the heart's ability to pump oxygen-filled blood all over the body including the brain.

Take a walk ... Walking will increase blood circulation and send more oxygen and glucose to feed your brain cells (especially since your leg muscles won't take up too much of either substance during a less strenuous workout).

... or a run. Studies in mice have indicated regular running can boost brain cell survival rates.

Use your less dominant hand. Say you're right-handed: try playing tennis or catching a ball with your left hand for a while. See if your brain can adjust.

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