Staying physically fit with aerobic exercises has numerous well-known advantages. Some of these include reducing the chances of having a stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. It also helps you reduce blood pressure, lower your weight, prevent depression and improve your looks. In addition, if you’re the type that experienced brain fog (which is associated with aging), regular exercises change the brain in a way that protects your thinking skills and memory for Healthy Brain Aging.
There have been several studies to find out more about the impacts of aerobic exercises on the brain. One of these studies found that intense aerobic exercise helps increase the hippocampus size (the part of the brain associated with learning and verbal memory). However, other activities such as muscle toning, balancing, and resistance training didn’t give the same result.
The result of this research cannot be timed more perfectly. It comes at a time when researchers say that there’s a newly detected dementia case globally every four seconds. By this estimate, there will be over 115 million people who have dementia globally by 2050.
Aerobic exercises help to boost thinking and memory both directly and indirectly. These benefits originate from the ability of these exercises to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance and also to stimulate the discharge of specific growth factors such as brain chemicals affecting the brain cells’ health, development of new blood vessels within the brain, as well as the survival and overall abundance of more individual brain cells.
The indirect benefits of aerobic exercises come from improving sleep, mood, reducing anxiety and stress, etc. Stress and anxiety, poor sleep, and the likes contribute to or even lead to cognitive impairment. So, regular exercises giving these benefits reduce the possibility of developing cognitive impairment.
Some studies suggest that the medial temporal cortex and the brain’s prefrontal cortex (the brain parts associated with memory and thinking) have larger volumes in people who exercise regularly than people who don’t exercise. According to neurologist Dr. Scott McGinnis, when writing at College Papers, having a program that involves regular exercises with moderate intensity for six months or one year may lead to more brain regions being selected.
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There are several studies to support that aerobic exercises boost healthy brain aging. For example, a study involved 454 old adults who underwent cognitive tests and physical exams for 20 years. In addition, the subjects were given accelerometers to track their physical activity and movement around the clock.
The participants that moved more often had a better score in their thinking and memory tests. Also, the researchers found that for every physical activity increase, even by one standard deviation, the possibility of the participants developing dementia reduces by 31%. Thus, during the study, the researchers found a strong relationship between cognitive functions and physical activities. This was consistent, even after they accounted for the brain pathology of the participants and considered whether they suffered dementia or not.
There was another study that involved 160 sedentary older adults that had mild cognitive impairments. This study had different options for the participants to partake in. The participants had to take part in aerobic exercises (three times weekly with each session lasting 45 seconds), eat a heart-healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, combine both the DASH diet with the exercise or receive health education. – Healthy Brain Aging
This study lasted for six months. The researchers found that people who took the DASH diet option didn’t improve in executive function (associated with problem-solving, planning, multitasking, etc.) after an assessment. The executive function of the participants that got health education worsened. However, the participants who took part in the aerobic exercises improved in their memory and thinking, while those who combined the diet with aerobic exercises recorded the most improvement.
How aerobic exercises help the brain- Healthy Brain Aging
There are several ways for the brain to benefit from regular physical exercise. Some of these are:
- Improvement of cardiovascular health
- The increased flow of blood to the brain
- Reduction of inflammation
- Reduction in stress hormone levels
In the absence of aerobic exercises, these factors individually and collectively lead to cognition problems in older people. However, exercising has some physical benefits for the brain as well. It helps to increase the cerebral cortex’s sickness and improve the white matter integrity. Exercise also enhances neuroplasticity (which is the ability of the brain to adapt throughout the person’s life and continue to create new neural connections). A critical part of the brain that is affected by exercises is the hippocampus which deals with memories.
According to a recent study, achieving at least 7500 steps per day and taking part in one hour of physical activity (light intensity) leads to an increase in total brain volume, equivalent to a decrease of about 1.4 – 2.2 years of brain aging.
There are several potential mechanisms of exercising that probably combine to improve brain health. Generally, even for people who have a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, exercising can hold this decline (for many years in some cases). This will enable the person to function better even as an old adult. Also, languages are useful and make the brain work more efficiently, especially for the old people, so aerobic exercises are very effective for brain health and activity. Old people are very sensitive to aging, so their environment has to care more about the brain activities, not just physical one. If you try to interact with the older people you will see how they love the activities for the brain, because this interaction reminds them of the games which were so important while they were the kids and their brain was developing.
Concerning the reduction of inflammation and stress hormone levels, aerobic exercises help to cover faster after some diseases and to spend time more effectively and productive and useful.
Putting this knowledge to the test- Healthy Brain Aging
After reading this, you should go and plan out your exercise schedule. It’s hard to say which of the exercises is the best, but there are many mentions of walking in most studies about this subject. However, generally, you need activities that make your heart pump more blood to get the same results.
If you’re looking to improve your memory, you should take part in this exercise at least twice per week and one hour per session. This gives you 120 minutes of exercise with moderate intensity. The standard recommendation for exercising is 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity exercises or at least 150 minutes per week. However, if this appears too difficult for you to start with, then you should do this exercise for a few minutes every day and begin to increase it gradually as you get more comfortable with it. Then, continue doing this until you achieve the standard recommendation per day or week. This exercise can increase the processes in your brain and to improve your memory and brain activity in general to slow down brain aging.
Apart from walking, there are many other activities that you can try out such as stair climbing, dancing, squash, tennis, swimming, etc. Some basic household activities also count, as long as it gets you sweating lightly and your heart pumping more. So doing more exercises, especially in the fresh air, are always useful and effective for brain aging.