While many think that the only goal of physical exercise is to make their bodies stronger or to lose weight, it turns out that exercise might be equally important toward the brain’s health and your cognitive functioning. This means that as you head to the gym in Columbus, your exercise efforts could be helping your brain in its ongoing fight against the effects and damages of aging.
The most encouraging part of it all is that it does not take running a half marathon to yield the benefits. A simple workout that results in breaking just a minor sweat, especially for older people, can boost the health of the brain. Scientists have discovered evidence that physical activity actually strengthens the brain itself. The physical exertion of the activity forces the cells in the brain to reinforce the old connections between neurons in addition to forging new connections. The more neuron connections present in the brain, the easier it is for them to process and store information.
Scientists have learned that even just short stints of physical activity boost the levels of a protein called BDNF (brain derived neuron factor). This chemical, which helps nerves to grow and to connect with one another, has been found to be almost equally as important in the adult brain as it is during a baby’s development.
As the brain ages, it loses nerve tissue. People who exercise, however, appear to lose brain tissue much slower than those who do not. Researchers now believe that exercise improves the act of thinking itself. It has been documented that adults who routinely exercise have been able to score significantly higher on cognitive tests centered on tasks such as planning and paying attention than those who do not.
While low levels of exercise can have health benefits, researchers suggest that the greatest benefits are derived from intensive lifelong exercise. So starting an exercise program now can have benefits later in life. In fact, other researchers have shown that exercise is more protective of the aging brain than either leisure activities or mental conditioning. Scientists in Edinburgh’s Center for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology showed that less brain shrinkage and more cognitive function was apparent in 70 year olds who exercised than in those who did not.
With that being said, perhaps it is about time to get started with a workout routine of your own!