Can Exercise Slow Brain Aging?

From early adulthood, memory and other aspects of cognition slowly decline.  The rate of decline in certain aspects of memory may be explained by a combination of overall physical fitness and the stiffness of the central arteries, researchers from Swinburne’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology have found.

A study to be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease considers the mechanisms underlying cognitive performance in older people living independently.  Lead author, PhD candidate Greg Kennedy, says, “Exactly why this occurs is unclear, but research indicates that exercise and physical fitness are protective.  A healthier, more elastic aorta is also theorized to protect cognitive function, by reducing the negative effects of excessive blood pressure on the brain.”

You’re never too old to increase your level of physical activity and exercise!  Any exercise that gets the heart pumping may reduce the risk of dementia and slow the condition’s progression once it starts.  So, fitness for seniors is especially important!

Are you overwhelmed by how to begin a fitness program?  Do you think you need a personal trainer?  Do you feel that exercise may feel like a chore?  Maintaining physical fitness can be easy – and fun!

  • Include your grandchildren in your new active lifestyle. Play catch or walk to the playground and push your grandkids on the swings.
  • Have a pet? Taking your four-legged companion on a brisk walk is a fun way to increase your heart rate and improve circulation.
  • Listen to your favorite song and dance for a few minutes! Be careful that your “dance floor” is clear of objects and that you have adequate room to “boogie.”
  • As the leaves – and branches – continue to fall during the unending rainstorms, increase cardiovascular endurance by raking leaves and picking up sticks. The raking motion will strengthen your arms and lifting the bags of leaves provides weight training.
  • Instead of working out for 30-minutes, try breaking fitness activities into three 10-minute “mini workouts” throughout the day. Begin your new exercise program slowly with moderate exercise and work your way up to more vigorous and challenging activities.

Regular exercise is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

As you age, staying active mentally is just as important as staying active physically.  At Fitness for Health, we can help you achieve both. Our unique approach to senior wellness focuses on helping you strengthen and maintain the skills that other workouts often overlook – including gross motor skills, mental processing, visual motor skills, personal training, group fitness classes and bone and joint health.  To learn more about our senior wellness programs, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.