Exercise Your Way to a Fit Brain

Being in the sandwich generation does not leave you with much spare time, and with all the duties piling up on your plate, it can be even harder to remember all the tasks you need to complete in said time. For those of us hoping to retain healthy and active brains into middle age and beyond (or simply enhance our brain power now), the latest scientific studies offer some insight into how to improve one’s memory.

Remaining active appears to be critical in warding off memory loss. While there is no proven connection between preventing Alzheimer’s disease and exercising, remaining active can delay the  creeping memory loss that begins in our thirties. Canadian researchers found that elderly adults who remained active into old age via walking around the block, cooking, gardening etc. scored better on cognitive function tests than those who led wholly sedentary lives. The study was conducted over a five year period and about 90 percent of those with the greatest daily energy could remember and think just as well year after year, while those who were less active experienced more memory loss. According
to the researchers, vigorous exercise isn’t necessary to retain memory, simply completing household tasks and going for brief strolls play a large part on avoiding memory loss in the elderly.

Another study published in the Neurobiology of Aging produced similar results. While many people young and old have difficulties getting motivated to exercise, the Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience
Laboratory at the University of British Columbia have shown that vigorous exercise is not necessary for memory retention. According to their study, light-duty weight training effects how well older women think and how blood flows to their brains. After conducting a 12 month study where participants
lifted weights twice a week, the women performed significantly better on mental processing tests than a control group of women who participated in a balance and toning program.  M.R.I. scans also showed that the women who completed the light weight training showed that the portions on the brain that control thinking were considerably more active than the non-weight trainers.

As evidenced by the above studies, simply remaining active both now and into old age plays a significant role in retaining memory. While sectioning off extended blocks of time to exercise may seem almost impossible given your busy schedule,  making time to run errands, garden and complete household tasks isn’t as challenging. Your brain will reward you for remaining active now and into the future.

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