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Thanks to an amazing body of new science presented over the past decade, we now know that regular physical activity has remarkable benefits for virtually all aspects of brain health and function. Conversely, this same science has established that a sedentary lifestyle is most definitely a powerful risk factor for the two most common brain pathologies, mainly dementia and stroke. In my opinion, one of the most riveting findings of exercise and the brain is how physical activity can actually reverse age related brain decline. A recent report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine included a review of a number of published studies on this subject matter and concluded that regular moderate exercise, that makes a person breathless, increases the speed of thinking, the quality of thinking and, most exciting, the actual volume of brain tissue. We now know that even the oldest brains retain plasticity or the capacity to grow new brain cells and forge new brain connections. Bottom line, the fitter you are the better the brain. For ICYOU, this is Dr. Anne helping you with your healthiest life.
Exercise and the Brain
Over the past decade, there has been a significant body of scientific research that has shed light on the remarkable benefits of regular physical activity for brain health and function. These findings have not only underscored the importance of staying active but have also revealed the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the brain, particularly in relation to two of the most prevalent brain pathologies: dementia and stroke.
One of the most compelling revelations from this research is the ability of physical activity to counteract age-related brain decline. Recent reports, including a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, have synthesized findings from various studies on this subject. The consensus is clear: engaging in regular moderate exercise, the kind that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder, can have several positive effects on cognitive function. This includes improvements in thinking speed, thinking quality, and, perhaps most excitingly, the actual volume of brain tissue.
One of the key takeaways from this research is the recognition that even as we age, our brains retain a remarkable degree of plasticity, meaning they can generate new brain cells and form new neural connections. This plasticity provides hope for individuals of all ages, suggesting that adopting a physically active lifestyle can enhance brain health and function, regardless of one’s stage in life.
In summary, the emerging consensus from the scientific community is that the fitter you are, the better your brain health is likely to be. These insights serve as a compelling motivation to prioritize physical activity and exercise as an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. So, as Dr. Anne emphasizes, taking care of your body also means taking care of your brain, ultimately contributing to your healthiest life.