‘Use it or lose it’.
That old saying may sound trite – but when it comes to staying spry as we age, nothing could be truer.
You can’t keep up your tennis game if you rarely play… or be the toast of the dance floor if you don’t stay on your toes.
And to stay sharp as a tack, you’ve got to keep challenging your brain, too.
Because according to a new study, if you don’t ‘use’ your body… you could literally ‘lose’ your mind.
Well… at least a very key part of it.
The research findings speak for themselves…
In a study out of the University of Texas, researchers scanned the brains of older people – some of whom had memory loss or mild cognitive impairment – and measured their fitness levels with an ‘oxygen uptake’ test.
Researchers also assessed brain function by giving participants a bunch of memory and cognitive tests, and they found something alarming: The lower the participants’ physical fitness levels, the more their brains had wasted away!
Specifically, it was something called the ‘white matter’ in their brains.
Now, I’ve shared plenty about your ‘grey matter’ with you in the past, but this part of your brain is different – it refers to the millions of bundles of nerve fibres that you have in your brain that help neurons in different areas communicate with one another.
And here’s the kicker: The thinner the participants’ white matter, the lower their cognitive function.
This means that physical inactivity could chip away at your mental abilities!
The results also help explain why everything from light activity to heavy weight lifting has been shown to help slash your risk of cognitive decline.
The theory is that exercise gets blood flowing to every nook and cranny of your brain and ‘beefs up’ its thickness in key areas – both of which are known to keep your mind sharp.
And if there’s anything in your body you want to be thick, it’s your brain!
Staying active keeps your blood pressure in check, too, lowering your risk of dementia.
Anything that gets you up and moving – even just tending your garden or walking the dog – can perk up your brain.
But in the study, ‘cardiorespiratory fitness’ was key, which means that if you can do some aerobic activity that gets your heart and lungs pumping, you’ll reap even more brain benefits.
You can try brisk walking… jogging… bicycling… ballroom dancing – whatever floats your boat!
Plus, when you work up a sweat, you also get rid of toxins.
It’s ideal to aim for about 30 minutes of activity, five times a week, but you’ll even get a brain boost from twice-weekly workouts.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.