Can Exercise Maintain a Youthful Brain?

We all know exercise is a necessity to maintain mobility, and a healthy weight, but is this also the key to a younger brain? I know if I’ve been at the computer for too many hours, or I’m watching a Netflix marathon my body feels stiff and craves movement. I also find my mind needs a refresher and a change of scenery. There are promising studies showing the effectiveness of exercise for the aging mind that might make you more motivated to lace up your walking shoes.

Taking us back to biology class, the hippocampus is the part of our brain that serves as the memory center. As we age, it decreases in size and becomes damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. So how does exercise tie into all of this? An article published by the National Institutes of Health had a study on how aerobic exercise increased the size of the hippocampus. In the study, a group of 120 older adults without dementia were split up into an aerobic program, and stretching program. After six months the group who participated in aerobic exercise showed a greater increase in the size of the hippocampus than those who did the stretching program. According to the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, exercise increases blood flow to the brain and improves memory in adults over 50.

Based on research done over the years, staying fit as we get older has a positive effect on the mind and body. Genetics and lifestyle may have a role to play in this as well, and everyone responds differently to various types of exercise. I work for an orthopedic group and have found our older patients who enjoy an active life are much happier, recover faster from injury, and are mentally sharp.

Now that we’ve ushered in the warmer months, it’s the perfect time to get moving, and give our minds a healthy workout!

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