Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
October 14, 2021
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

Mental clarity is something everyone wants. However, it is not always easy to obtain. Stress, lack of sleep, or not enough hydration could make you feel foggy. Exercises for mental clarity can help you eliminate brain fog; these exercises can both be mental and physical.  

Can the mental focus be improved by exercise?

Yes, exercise can help big time in improving your mental focus.

Exercise could boost your thinking skills and it eliminates brain fog. It is overall great for your health and brain to take care of your mental and physical health.

Taking a moment for yourself could improve brain function and relieve stress. It could be exercises, yoga, or meditation.  It should not be hard to find time for exercise, even if it is just half an hour.

When traveling, prepare exercises you can do without any equipment so that if there are no workout facilities then it would not be a problem.

Which exercise is best for my brain health?

Exercising could have a large influence on your focus.  Regular exercises can keep your brain healthy and happy, so you feel less stressed for longer periods.

It is recommended to go for a quick run or jog around the block before starting your day or after work. That might help you defuse.

There are many ways to train the brain. The best exercise for your brain is the one you can keep up with. Research shows that moderate exercise is probably the best way to stay active.

If you are just starting, you can take it slow. With physical exercise, you can start a walking routine instead of running. Use lower-level puzzles to work up your brain game levels.

The best way to take care of your entire brain and your cognitive abilities is to have a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes a simple exercise routine and eating a balanced diet

If you are going to start an exercise routine, a doctor can provide medical advice on how to go about it. They can assess certain risks or give advice based on your underlying conditions or the medication you are currently taking.

Brain Exercises for Adults

It is shown that cognitive training can have a positive influence on your memory or concentration. While it might not have a direct influence on your mental clarity, it can indirectly support it. 

For those that are aging, it could be important to stay active. Some brain exercises you could do are crosswords, sudoku, or maybe a brain puzzle. It is a good idea to use your working memory. This is a brain function that uses the information in your short-term memory and uses it. Games where you have to remember something and then use that information. 

Exercises for Mental Clarity

The brain has a natural way of recovering. Aerobic exercise is shown to have a positive impact on cognition. Research shows that moderate walking might be a better intervention than toning or stretching. Mainly the executive functions seem to improve by the aerobic exercises. 

That would mean that maybe it would be easier to switch your attention, control your impulses and make logical decisions. Other research supports the effectiveness of aerobic exercise as well by showing that it can preserve grey and white matter volume (and integrity) in the brain.

Music for Mental Clarity

Music has been shown to influence your mood. Everyone can surely attest to feeling a certain way after searching for a certain melody. Some people use music to relax or feel more upbeat. 

Research shows that music designed to be upbeat and lighthearted can positively affect our mood and also our mental clarity. 

Classical, New Aged, or grunge rock music can also impact our mood (negatively or positively) however it doesn’t reduce mental clarity.

Breathing exercises for Mental Clarity

Brain fog or a lack of mental clarity is sometimes caused by stress. It is clear that if we take away the cause of the problem that might lead to more clarity. Deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, or pranayama are words that refer to controlling our respiration, mostly in a deep way. 

Research shows that diaphragmatic breathing has a positive effect on lowering our cortisol levels. Our cortisol levels are a representation of how much stress our body is experiencing.

In short, practicing this kind of breathing lowers your stress. Other studies show also a positive effect on emotion enhancement and management of anxiety or depression.

This study focused on diaphragmatic breathing only also found a positive effect on cognitive performances. Breathing deeply for 15 minutes a day could already provide a significant increase in how you can keep your attention. Other research confirms these effects, whether it is combined with other interventions like yoga for example.

Have a Walk in Nature

Interactions with nature positively affect our health and well-being. It can decrease anxiety, rumination and negative affect. In short, it can make us feel good or better. It can also possibly preserve positive affect. 

Nature can have a positive impact on your cognition. More specifically, it has a positive effect on our working memory. The working memory is where you save information and use it after in other cognitive tasks.  

Not only does walking in nature have a positive effect on healthy adults. It also has a positive impact on adults with major depressive disorder.

Even when thinking of negative memories, people with depression still experience a positive effects of nature even in such a state.

Meditation for Cognition

Meditation can have a lot of positive effects on your cognition. Long term mindfulness meditation shows to have positive effects on executive functioning and on sustaining attention.

That means that practicing mindfulness meditation for a long time would make you a better planner or coordinator, you would be better at keeping your attention with the task at hand. 

Short meditation training can also have an effect. Research already shows a positive effect on cognition after 4 days of training sessions. They found this positive effect on mood.

Also, they noticed a reduction in anxiety, and fatigue, and an increase in mindfulness. These symptoms are associated with mental clarity (or brain fog). 

Another positive effect could be improved visuo-spatial processing, executive function and working memory. 

To meditate find a quiet spot and sit comfortably. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breathing.

After a while, you will notice that there are thoughts popping up in your head like ‘what am I going to cook for dinner’. 

Don’t worry about these thoughts. Simply recognize them and let them go without judgement. After a while, you will notice that the thoughts keep coming and going.

When this happens, try to focus back on your breathing. It might take some time for you to reach a meditative state where it’s easier to simply focus on your breathing without any effort. 

Exercises for Depression

Depression is usually treated by combining medication and psychotherapy. The kind of talk therapy that is usually recommended is cognitive behavioral therapy. In therapy you can learn new coping skills to manage your triggers better. 

Other interventions to manage depression could indeed be overall taking better care of your health by going for a run or a brisk walk. Aerobic exercise could have a positive effect on your mood by boosting feel good hormones in the body. 

Other Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise doesn’t only show improved symptoms of depression and more mental clarity. Exercise can also have positive effects on your overall mental health. 

Exercise boosts endorphins and can lower stress. It is mostly the stress which could induce fog. By exercising there is an increase in brain function and blood flow to the brain. This way it supports your (mental) health and the immune system.

Overcoming Obstacles to Exercise

Starting an exercise routine can be difficult to start or to reuptake again. 

A common barrier to start this new routine is a lack of time. Our society is focused on productivity and work. The best way to make time for mental or physical exercise is to plan it.

Planning can also be a great solution if you have a lack of motivation. Something else you can do is to make small changes by, for example, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator. 

Someone who supports you and keeps you accountable can be a good way to keep motivated. 

What are other things you can do to improve your mental clarity?

Other things you can do to help your mental clarity is to take care of your physical fitness. 

Brain fog could be caused by dehydration.  So one thing to do is drinking enough water. To avoid dehydration you can also drink tea or coffee, but don’t overdo it with caffeine. 

Nutrition is also important for your mental clarity because if you eat unhealthy food it could contribute to brain fog. Having an incomplete diet or vitamin deficiency can cause brain fog, or a lack of mental 

Cut the sugar.  Sugar is not a healthy source of energy. Some people with sensitivities to sugar might get high highs, and deep lows. They might react very strong to sugar and carbs and get brain fog. Cutting some excessive sugars from your diet can possibly stabilise some of the complaints. 

Finally, having good sleep hygiene is important as well. This would mean sleeping about 8 hours a night. Make sure you sleep in a dark and quiet place.

Concluding Thoughts

Getting in some physical activity and taking care of your mental health as well as using some puzzles or cognitive training can improve your brain fog. However, if after some health changes you still notice these complaints, check in with a doctor. They can provide medication and take a look at the root cause of your brain fog.

Exercise is something that we know is beneficial to our health, but not many people make the time for it. The best advice would be to start small if you haven’t exercised before. Another option could be meditation as well as cognitive training. 

Another option is to plan your exercises and use some tools or apps that can keep you accountable. See what works for you and start today! 

I hope you liked the read, have another look at some other articles on mental clarity or brain fog.

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