We all know that regular exercise is one of the best ways to support a weight loss plan or prevent weight regain. Exercise is also touted as one of the best ways to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and many other age- or weight-related health conditions. But exercise isn’t just good for your body. It’s also good for your mind!
In particular, we tend to assume that as we get older, our memories will probably decline to some degree. But we don’t have to accept memory loss as simply inevitable. There are many ways to protect and strengthen our minds as time marches on, and it turns out that exercise is one of those methods.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a study from UT Southwestern Medical Center, titled, “Brain Perfusion Change in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment After 12 Months of Aerobic Exercise Training” (May 2020). Over a one-year period, researchers compared two groups of participants who were already showing signs of mild, age-related cognitive impairment at the start of the study. While the control group performed a regular stretching routine, the study group engaged in 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five days per week.
The results might not surprise you, if you’ve followed other research on exercise and cognitive functioning. After one year, the group that engaged in regular aerobic exercise displayed better blood flow to the brain, along with improved memory function.
So not only can regular exercise protect your mind as you age; it might even reverse some of the age-related memory problems that we’ve come to view as a normal part of aging! Researchers concluded that the effect is likely due to improved blood flow to the brain, but other forces could also be at work.
Luckily, you don’t even need to join a gym in order to enjoy the cognitive benefits of exercise. Simply get out and go for a walk in your neighborhood, swim in a nearby pool, or go for a bike ride. Opportunities for exercise are all around us, and just 30 minutes per day can work wonders for both a weight loss plan and your mental prowess.
For more information on a weight loss plan and preventing age-related health problems, call us to schedule an appointment.