How Do I Workout and Exercise for Brain Health?
You are most likely aware of the many health benefits of aerobic exercise. These can include:
- Increased energy
- Decreased stress levels
- Improvement in mood and overall mental health
- Weight management
- Reduced risk of many chronic health conditions
However, you may not be aware that aerobic exercise may also reduce the deterioration of your brain as you age, according to new research by the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University in Australia and the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
The systematic review and meta-analysis took a look at 14 clinical trials that involved 737 participants. The participants comprised a mix of healthy adults, and those with early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, cognitive impairment and other mental illnesses. Many of the subjects were young and old, and the mid-range age of all the studies reviewed was 66 years old.
The participants performed aerobic exercise activities for a duration of three to 24 months, with two to five sessions weekly of aerobic exercise (stationary biking, treadmill running and walking). The researchers conducted brain scans to the participants prior to and after exercise, and the results showed that the left side of the hippocampus (the region of the brain that processes memory) significantly increased in size (research has found this in animals, but not in human participants). The Science Daily report states: “When you exercise you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,” according to Joseph Firth, the lead author and postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine. BDNF is a protein that encourages the survival of nerve cells and the maintenance of healthy cell-to-cell communication.
Pretty cool stuff that definitely warrants further research. If exercise does reduce brain deterioration, it would be wise to start exercising at an early age to prevent brain deterioration.
If you’d like to read more about the study, check out the research here.
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