A variety of scientific studies demonstrate the powerful benefits of exercise on our bodies and brains, particularly as we age. The studies were reported in the January 25th, 2010 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Here is a brief summary of several of the studies.
· Experts have believed that aerobic exercise enhances cognitive function by promoting blood flow to the brain. One anaerobic study indicated that resistance training (weight training) improved memory, learning, decision making and conflict resolution. The resistance training also improved walking speed, and a faster walking pace has been linked to lower mortality. Weight-training also increases a growth factor associated with maintaining skeletal mass, and this same factor also promotes nerve growth (which may be another way to boost mental functions).
· Another study indicated higher levels of physical activity led to lower incidences of dementia. However, any level of physical activity can be helpful for brain strengthening, according to the study.
· Yet another study showed that women who jogged three hours or more per week (or walked briskly for five hours) were 76% more likely to age successfully than women who jogged only 20 minutes a week. Successful aging in this study meant freedom from chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
· Another study found that regular weekly exercise sessions led to a significantly lower risk of experiencing a fracture-causing fall than those who did not exercise regularly.
While no one may yet be ready to say regular exercise (aerobic and anaerobic) is a sure-fire preventative for common physical illnesses and mental frailties as you age, there is more and more evidence that exercise is good for you physically and mentally. So look at your own exercise regime. If you’ve limited yourself to walking or jogging or other aerobic workouts, perhaps it’s time to spend some time in the gym working out with weights. You can buff up your bod and your brain at the same time.