I don’t know about you, but I shudder every time I hear someone say: “New Year! New You!” Then they carry on about how they started a new diet… and how they are redecorating their house… and… It’s all a bit exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for positive changes no matter what time of the year, but I believe these positive steps should be small and incremental in order for them to make a lasting impact.
Working up a sweat to save your memory
Having said that, if there is one change I fully support then it is making exercise a part of your daily routine. And if you want to keep your brain healthy and protect your memories well into your old age, then here’s another very good reason why you should be working up a sweat on a regular basis.
A research team from Australia and the UK recently examined the impact of aerobic exercise on age-related cognitive decline. They specifically focused on how exercise influenced the size of the hippocampus — your brain’s memory centre.
The researchers reviewed 14 different human trials that included the brain scans of more than 700 subjects. The participants were a mix of healthy adults, patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, as well as patients who were diagnosed with mental illness. The age range of the participants was between 24 to 76, with an average age of 66.
Brain imaging was taken both before and after exercise to gauge its effects. Workouts included stationary biking, walking, and treadmill runs. Training programmes ranged between two and five days a week, for anywhere from three months to two years.
The average brain starts shrinking roughly five percent per decade by the age of 40. But the results of this review showed that exercise increases the size of the brain’s left hippocampal region significantly, appearing to put the brakes on this decline.
Bottom line: Exercise helps keep your brain from shrinking and your memory sharper.
Commenting on their findings, the researchers said that aerobic exercise triggers the release of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor — a protein responsible for promoting neuron survival and maintenance.
In other words, that daily walk around the block provides a powerful anti-ageing medicine for your brain. Better still, exercise is side effect-free and you can start doing it at any age… and any time of the year.
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