How does dyslexia affect the brain? Dyslexia is a lifelong neurological condition affecting a person’s reading, writing, and spelling ability. This has nothing to do with their intelligence. The only thing this condition affects is their ability to process linguistic information. They may need help with accurately reading a sentence, being fluent in a language, or comprehending what’s precisely written. There is no cure, but there are dyslexia coping skills and brain exercises that will immensely benefit your brain health.
This language-based learning disability can make people question their self-worth and self-esteem. They may lose their confidence. It’s challenging for those who are young. Parents need to educate themselves, their children, and others around them so young kids don’t blame themselves for their shortcomings. Also, we should raise awareness against bullying dyslexic kids for their condition.
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How Does Exercise Affect Brain Health?
Exercising regularly benefits your physical health and positively impacts your mental health. It helps maintain and improve brain health, cognitive function, and emotional well-being. Here are some ways it affects your brain health:
1. It Increases the Blood Flow
Regular physical activities like running, jogging, and swimming improve blood circulation in the human body. It ensures that your brain also receives a good supply of oxygen and other nutrients. Something as simple as walking for 20 minutes a day will do wonders for your brain health. All these things that help your brain receive a rich supply of oxygen promote brain well-being while enhancing cognitive function.
2. It Releases Neurotransmitters
Exercising stimulates your brain to release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, endorphin, serotonin, and dopamine. These three reduce stress, regulate good mood, and contribute positively to your overall mental health. When you don’t exercise, you may have stress, anxiety, and even depression. The feel-good hormones are significant in managing your happiness.
3. It Promotes Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity or neural plasticity, is an umbrella term. It’s how your brain reorganizes, rewires, and adapts. When you focus on regular physical activity, it promotes neuroplasticity. The entire process is essential for learning, memory, and skill development.
4. It Increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Exercise increases the making of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. BDNF is a protein that supports the growth, function, and survival of brain cells (neurons). It helps the brain differentiate one thing from the other. These cells are essential in learning and memory. Therefore, higher levels of BDNF are associated with improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
5. It Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Exercise helps increase a person’s self-confidence. It improves your mood. If you are stressed, a 15-minute running or jogging session will calm you down, as exercise helps regulate stress hormones like cortisol. It also provides a natural way to manage anxiety and depression by promoting relaxation and improving mood.
6. It Enhances Memory and Learning
When you indulge in regular exercise, your memory and thinking skills will be boosted. If you have dyslexia, you need to exercise regularly to have better memory, faster processing speed, and an improved ability to learn new information. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that tai chi, a martial art that involves slow, focused movements, requires individuals to learn and memorize new skills and movement patterns. It showed the potential to enhance cognitive function in older adults, especially in executive function, which manages cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, attention, problem-solving, and verbal reasoning.
7. It Improves Sleep
Exercise can promote better sleep quality, crucial for cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall brain health.
8. It Prevents Alzheimer’s and Other Related Diseases
Studies suggest that regular exercise may attenuate the risk of developing age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.
Benefits of Exercise for People with Dyslexia
Exercise can offer several benefits to individuals with dyslexia, such as:
- Improves concentration: Regular physical activity has been known to enhance concentration and focus. This is because blood flows to your brain during physical activities. This is particularly helpful for those with dyslexia who may struggle with attention and distractibility.
- Enhances brain connectivity: Exercise stimulates the growth of neural connections in the brain, aiding in developing alternative pathways for information processing. Hence, this enhanced brain connectivity supports individuals in finding new ways to approach reading and writing tasks.
- Boosts coordination and motor skills: Some young kids with dyslexia may also have motor and coordination difficulties. Exercise, especially activities focusing on balance and coordination, can help improve these skills. For example, jumping rope, dribbling, juggling, and dancing are a few activities that will help increase your coordination and motor skills.
- Establishes a routine and structure: You establish a good routine when you exercise frequently. You start eating healthy, you sleep on time, and you ensure that you have a sense of structure in your daily life. This routine can be empowering for those facing learning challenges.
Tips for Getting Started with Exercise
Starting an exercise routine can be both exciting and challenging. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Set realistic goals. You can’t set a goal of working out for an hour on the first day. This will exhaust your energy, and it will demotivate you. Set achievable goals, as that will help you build your confidence.
- Select exercises that you enjoy. This can include running, dancing, swimming, hiking, or even playing a sport like tennis or badminton. When you enjoy what you are doing, it won’t feel like an exercise.
- If you have an active life where you always hang out with your friends and ignore your mental health, it’s best to create a strict routine. Schedule your workouts like appointments. This will help you develop a habit and will make you more consistent. And as they say, consistency is critical to progress.
- Mix it up once in a while. If just swimming is boring you, try incorporating some aerobic exercise into your routine.
- Always drink plenty of water and stay hydrated before, during, and after workouts.
- Eat a balanced diet. Don’t work out and eat a large pizza. That won’t help you at all. Eat food that is rich and can help in regulating your brain functioning. Some brain foods that can help you tackle dyslexia include pumpkins, walnuts, salmon, eggs, sardines, fresh tuna, and organic milk.
Exercise Programs for People with Dyslexia
When designing an exercise program for individuals with dyslexia, it is essential to consider their specific needs and preferences. Here are some general guidelines and exercise ideas that can be beneficial:
Focus on Enjoyable Activities
As mentioned, pick out physical activities your dyslexic son or daughter would enjoy. It could be swimming, dancing, yoga, martial arts, or any other activity that captures their interest. Enjoyable activities are more likely to be sustained in the long term.
Incorporate Balance and Coordination Exercises
Activities that improve balance and coordination can be helpful. Yoga, tai chi, and balance exercises can enhance a dyslexic person’s motor skills and body awareness.
Try Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming are great for cardiovascular health. They can also help reduce stress and improve overall mood, which can be particularly beneficial for people with dyslexia.
Light strength training using body weight, resistance bands, or light weights can be incorporated into your routine. Focus on major muscle groups. And ensure you start with low-resistance exercises to avoid straining or pulling a muscle.
Flexibility and Stretching
Stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates can improve your flexibility and range of motion. They combine stretching, balance, and relaxation techniques. Healthcare professionals often recommend them as they are excellent options.
Start practicing mindfulness. Activities like meditation and deep breathing exercises can help manage stress and improve focus. These practices can be integrated into the exercise routine.
Personalize your Training
If you can afford to hire a personal trainer, then go ahead and do it. They can create a tailored program addressing your strengths and challenges. They will focus solely on you and dyslexia best practices. This could benefit you a lot.
Use Visual and Verbal Cues
Incorporate visual demonstrations and verbal instructions by a trainer to enhance your understanding of the exercises. Their clear and concise communication will help you understand activities better.
How Exercise Improves the Overall Well-being of Dyslexic People
Regular exercise can have significant positive effects on individuals with dyslexia, improving cognitive function, academic performance, and mental well-being in several ways:
- Exercise stimulates the growth of new neurons and promotes the formation of new connections in the brain. This structural change can boost information processing in the brain and support reading, writing, and spelling skills.
- Exercise has been shown to increase neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which play a crucial role in attention and focus. This can help individuals with dyslexia concentrate better in and out of the classroom.
- When dyslexic individuals participate in group exercises or team sports, it provides opportunities for social interaction and support. It promotes positive social experiences that enhance mental well-being while contributing to a sense of belonging.
Choosing the Right Sport for People with Dyslexia
When choosing sports for people with dyslexia, it is essential to consider activities that cater to their strengths and interests. You can try a low-impact sport like swimming that will allow you to develop coordination, balance, and strength in a supportive environment.
If you enjoy being outdoors, then try cycling. Riding a bicycle can be a great way to improve balance and coordination. It can also boost self-confidence as individuals master the skill of cycling. In addition to that, you can try martial arts like karate or taekwondo. They give utmost importance to discipline, focus, and self-control.
Gymnastics, yoga, and dance classes like ballet, hip-hop, or jazz can encourage creativity, rhythm, and body awareness. Try some of these exercises if they are accessible to you. See which one you like the most and adapt it to your daily routine.
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Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental condition. It doesn’t define who you are. You have unique strengths and abilities that can be nurtured and developed. If you know someone with dyslexia, then be understanding. Show patience toward them and encourage them to overcome challenges. Check out Beem to stay updated on all the latest health and wellness trends.