Studies now show that exercise helps prevent cognitive decline and fights off dementia. Moderate to intense exercise can slow the brain aging by as much as 10 years, according the medical journal Neurology.
I am sure you are wondering how running on a tread mill or on a stationary bike can help to improve brain function.
Researchers found a number of different mechanisms behind this body-brain link. One of the key factors is how the exercise affects brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is found in both your muscles and your brain.
Exercise stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5. This protein triggers BDNF, which rejuvenates in your brain, BDNF: preserves existing brain cells, activates brain stem cells, and promotes brain growth, especially in the hippocampus area, the region of the brain associated with memory.
Exercise also helps preserve gray and white matter in your frontal, temporal and parietal cortexes, which helps prevent cognitive deterioration.
Clearly most of us know that exercise should be a part of your life, starting young. But exercise is never too late to start. Seniors who take up a fitness program can improve their cognitive function.
It is interesting to note that strength training, and working leg muscles in particular, has a major impact on brain function and memory. One study shows 20 minutes of leg strength exercise enhanced long term memory by 10%.
Remember, try to avoid sitting as much as possible and walking more; try for 10,000 steps per day. Your brain has the capacity to regenerate and grow throughout your life. Exercise is a great way ensure your brain continues to rejuvenate as you grow older.