WE LACE UP
running shoes and commit to gym memberships for our body, our heart, our waist-and hopefully for some fun. While the physical benefits of working out are well-know, perhaps the last thing anyone expects to get from activity is enhanced cognition. Well, exercise will give you that: Research is finding that staying active is one of the most potent ways to keep your brain sharp, your memory strong and your outlook bright.
the age of 60. The women followed a workout program of walking for 30 minutes three times a week. As their endurance grew, they increased walking time and frequency until they reached 50 minutes four times weekly.
At the end of the three months, the women were much fitter. But more importantly, sonograms indicated that blood flow through the carotid arteries had increased by 15 percent. The improved circulation equaled more oxygen, glucose (energy) and nutrients delivered to the brain, and more waste products such as amyloidbeta protein-linked to Alzheimer’s disease-flushed out of the brain. The most exciting aspect of their findings, the researchers stress, is that they saw this kind of improvement in seniors, proving it’s never too late to benefit from regular exercise.
IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW TO THE BRAIN
Past the age of 60, blood circulation to the brain declines-but it doesn’t have to. Researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas have found that starting a workout program can reverse it.
Using ultrasound to measure flow through the large carotid arteries in the neck, the researchers monitored blood circulation to the brain in 16 female volunteers over
WARD OFF DEMENTIA
One of the greatest fears of old age is slowly losing our grasp on reality. About 5.5 million Americans have the disease right now.And thanks to the fact that we’re living longer than ever, that number is expected to triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Grim, but protection is at hand. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign found that as little as 15 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 40 percent-even in people who were at high risk due to their family history. Other studies indicate that the improved blood flow to the brain that keeps the gears in your head lubricated. Researchers have found that activity and blood flow stimulate a protein called BDNF-brain derived neurotrophic factor which plays a crucial role in the protection and growth of new blood vessels and brain cells.
Your memory can benefit as well, Researchers at the University of Melbourne asked 138 people age 50 and older who complained of memory problems—but did not yet have diagnosable dementia begin an exercise program or continue to live as they had been. The exercise prescription was 150 minutes a week; most split their time into three 50-minute
sessions of walking. At six months and again at 18 months, the walkers scored significantly better on memory tests and an Alzheimer’s screening than those who remained sedentary. The results were better than patients could expect from medication, the study authors say. And unlike medication, the benefits of being active extend well beyond a better memory.
Researchers are finding that one of the better treatments for ADHD is regular workouts. Several studies have found that children who add
activity to their daily schedules are less likely to need medication, Research from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire found that just 12 minutes of exercise could improve attention and reading cornprehension in kids.
Now, a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds that adult sufferers gain the same benefits. When 22 men with symptoms of ADHD-a lack of Focus, poor motivation- biked before performing mental tasks, they did much better than alter sitting quietly. Their locus and motivation improved to the same extent that the men could expect from taking the stimulants usually prescribed for ADHD, say the researchers.
Exercise has been so effective at managing depression that mood researchers have called for psychologists and psychiatrists to prescribe workouts alongside antidepressants and talk therapy. Why the confidence’. Studies such as one from 2015 in which 11,000 people had been followed for 50 years. The researchers discovered that active adult suffered far less depression and depressive symptoms than more sedentary folks.
Exercise seems to work its magic on mood in part by spurring the release of feel-good substances such as endorphins. But research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden suggests vigorous activity can also purge the blood of a protein that builds up in times of duress. Called PGC-1 alpha 1, the protein can remain elevated for hours and can trigger depression, the researchers say. When muscles are engaged in vigorous activity, they produce an enzyme that ushers the protein out of the blood, improving mood and lowering the long-term risk of depression. In other words, get active to get happy,