This is probably the reason regular exercise boost brain health and improve memory functions. A study1 published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience finds that stopping exercise in just 10 days decreases blood flow to the brain.
Regular exercise is vital and beneficial not just for brain health, but for overall health and fitness. When it comes to maintaining memory sharpness especially on older people, exercise matters along with healthy eating and lifestyle.
The lead author of the study Dr. J. Carson Smith said in a press release;
We know that the hippocampus plays an important role in learning and memory and is one of the first brain regions to shrink in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
In rodents, the hippocampus responds to exercise training by increasing the growth of new blood vessels and new neurons, and in older people, exercise can help protect the hippocampus from shrinking.
So, it is significant that people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in brain blood flow in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health.
The subjects in the study were all master athletes with ages ranging from 50 to 80 with 61 as the average age. Master athletes are defined as individuals who had 15 years of track record of participating in endurance exercise. They also have participated in a recent endurance event.
The subjects exercise regimens are at least 4 hours of high-intensity endurance training weekly. They were running approximately 36 miles per week, or equivalent to a 10K run per day. Expectedly, the group had a V02 max above 90 percent of their age.
V02 is a measure of maximum oxygen rage consumption. This also reflects the participant’s level of physical fitness. If you want, you can calculate your V02 max using this online calculator.
Exercise Prevents Age-Related Brain Shrinkage
Another study published in Neurology2 finds that carviovascular fitness may be a vital step towards ensuring healthy brain aging.
Additionally, researchers at Georgia Tech also found in their research that weight lifting improves memory function. In their study, they found that an intense short workout of 20 minutes can boost long-term memory or episodic memory of previous events.
This means it makes people remember better and in this study in increases 10 percent better of recalling events. The subjects were healthy young adults.
Lack of Exercise Also Causes Shrinkage
Harvard Medical School explains that one of the causes of shrinkage is the lack of exercise.
Regular exercise can help builds the muscles and bones. Add to it a healthy eating and lifestyle, it is a helpful way of maintaining ideal fitness level for both mental and physical.
Keeping Brain Healthy Through Exercise
Another professor from Harvard, Prof. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD explains how exercise is beneficial to maintaining brain health.
There are many other health benefits exercise can do such as boosting testosterone, better heart health and among others.
Hence, make it habit to stay active physically. Don’t fret if you don’t have any gym membership. It’s not the only way to exercise.
Home exercises using bodyweight are a lot easier and convenient. Such exercises include push-up, pull-ups, chair dip and many others. You can also include yoga as a stretching routine, which is beneficial for both mind and body.
Short but intense exercises are effective. These are called HIIT(high-intensity interval training).