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Exercise Your Way to a Healthier Brain

We all know that exercise is important to stay healthy and maintain our physical well-being. But research also tells us that physical activity is good for the mind. Exercise:

  • Increases blood flow to the brain, keeping it oxygenated
  • Releases brain-boosting chemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
  • Helps reduce stress, which can age the brain

In one study involving more than 600 people in Scotland, researchers discovered that people in their 70s who participated in physical exercise had less brain shrinkage than those were more sedentary. They also had fewer signs of aging in the brain overall, including better brain circuitry connections. Researchers even went so far to say that exercise helps reduce brain shrinkage better than mentally and socially stimulating activities like playing chess or learning a new language, although these activities are also important for maintaining brain health. We discuss other ways to keep your brain performing at its peak in this post.
Another study done at the University of British Columbia demonstrated that regular aerobic exercise – running, jogging, swimming, bicycling – seems to increase the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain related to learning and memory.
Physical activity may also help ward off diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, physical exercise reduces your risk of developing the disease by 50 percent, a finding duplicated by John Medina, an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He claims that aerobic exercise can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.
And for those who think they simply don’t have enough time in the day to exercise, we have some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that even moderate exercise can provide amazing benefits. In a study done by the University of Georgia, researchers discovered that even brief workouts – as little as 20 minutes a day – improve memory. In another study of seniors, those who reported that they exercised for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week, reduced their risk of vascular-related dementia by 40 percent and cognitive impairment due to any reason by 60 percent. The bad news? You no longer have a reason to put off exercising.
So, get moving! Your body – and mind – will thank you for it.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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