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How Fitness Protects Your Brain

by: Stefan Simonovic

Source: Flickr

Sure, one of the most obvious effects of regular exercise is the body shape that it inevitably creates that makes you look and feel sexier, which definitely comes in handy when your mission is to date a cowboy who’s ripped and bursting with health. On the other hand, there are those less obvious effects that become evident as we age, and should never be ignored even if we think we’re never going to grow old – the effects that exercise has on the brain. Today, we take a look at how regular physical activity keeps the brain younger for longer and how it improves cognitive functioning.

Exercise Keeps the Brain Younger

As we get older and our fitness level deteriorates, so does the white matter in the brain compared to our fitter but not necessarily younger peers. When white matter deteriorates, our decision-making abilities decline, especially if memory loss has already been present for some time. This means that regular physical activity as we age can slow cognitive decline or even dementia, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The hypothesis that regular exercise can protect the brain in the old age has long been around, but there have never been more studies around proving that it is a fact. Further, research also suggests that people who are at high risk for Alzheimer’s can slow down the disease and keep their brain highly functional for longer. Although there is still more research needed to advance the field of cognitive decline in old age, the results that are currently available are certainly encouraging. So far, it has been concluded that exercise can slow the aging process of the brain by 10 years, which is pretty remarkable!

How Does It Do It?

Exercise can impact memory and thinking skills directly by reducing insulin resistance and inflammation, and by stimulating the release of growth factors. These growth factors are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells and stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleeping patterns and reduces stress levels and anxiety. Needless to say, problems in these areas often negatively affect cognitive impairment.

Given that exercise is just as good for the body as it is for the brain, we’d like to point out that not all exercise is created equal. When it comes to keeping your brain young, aerobic exercise seems to be at the forefront, and this isn’t surprising given that cardio makes the heart beat faster, in turn increasing blood flow to the brain. The blood delivers oxygen, which is the key factor given that the brain is the biggest consumer of oxygen in the body. Weight training is also beneficial because it increases the heart rate, which means more blood is pumped to the brain. When it comes to resistance training, the link to brain health hasn’t yet been established, but the research in this field is growing.

Obviously, the combination of aerobic and strength training is the best way to go because its effects on the overall health, not just our cognitive functioning, have been proven multiple times. By combining the two, you can expect to see a reduction in weight, lowering of blood pressure, improvements in the cardiovascular and respiratory functions, and better muscle strength.


About the author:

Stefan is a writer and a blogger in his spare time. He also works for First Beat Media, a company that mainly focuses on the online dating niche and similar services.



1 comment:

  1. Wow that's really amazing I have heard a new app apple nutrition chart this app is great and I have started looking at it. Thanks for the help and suggesting the matter I will go forward with it. Keep publishing and writing new article.

    ReplyDelete

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