Wellness Wednesday Fitness Roundup
It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for our bodies. Heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, strokes….the chances of getting one or all of these is increased by just sitting around. Even a little bit of exercise everyday can pay huge dividends towards keeping the old machine in working order. But we don’t often think of the benefits that physical exercise can have on the mind. Here’s an article from Providence Health that describes the results of recent studies showing that aerobic exercise can not only sharpen the brain, but can help improve brain function.
Aerobic Exercise Benefits Mature Adults More Than Previously Believed
You’ve heard that physical activity can help sharpen the brain, especially in people who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Now, a study out of Wake Forest’s School of Medicine adds to the scientific evidence that exercise can improve brain function.
Researchers found that aerobic exercise helped retain and even increase the brain’s volume in older adults. That’s significant because loss of brain volume can be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
“Even over a short period of time, we saw aerobic exercise lead to a remarkable change in the brain,” said the study’s lead investigator, Laura D. Baker, a professor at Wake Forest.
Researchers set out to characterize the brains of people with mild cognitive impairment, which could include problems with memory and decision-making, and then compare their brains after participants did different types of exercise. People who are diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment are at increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers took magnetic-resonance images of the brains of 35 adults with an average age of 63 at the beginning of the study and then again after six months of an exercise routine. They found increases in the brain’s gray matter in both people who did aerobic exercises and in those who simply stretched. The regions of increased volume included the temporal lobe, which supports short-term memory. Read more….
Lest we focus all of our attention on aerobic exercise, it’s good to mix in a bit of resistance training as well. The benefits here are to both mind and body as well.
Regular Strength Training Builds Minds As Well As Bodies
Australian researchers say they have proven what many have suspected: Building your muscle strength is good for your brain.
In a study that has powerful implications for older adults whose memories are in decline, researchers found a connection between progressive resistance training and brain function in adults older than 55 with mild cognitive impairment. People with mild cognitive impairment have diminished ability to think or recall memories, but are still able to live independently.
“What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains,” said lead author Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney. “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.”
What the study showed….read more….
So there you have it, mature minds and bodies benefit from both aerobic exercise and resistance training!