The third way to improve your brain’s health and lower your risk of dementia, as described in the book “Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter, MD, after reducing carbs and increasing good fats, is exercise. That’s physical exercise, not mental exercise like playing Scrabble© and doing crossword puzzles (which also helps but surprisingly not as much).
Perlmutter is not alone in promoting exercise to improve our brains. Various studies have found that exercise benefits our brains in many ways and at all ages from elementary school students to seniors:
• exercising before a test increased scores by 17%
• the fittest Grade 6 students scored 30% higher on tests
• 40 minutes daily exercise increased IQ by 3.8 points
• older students who play vigorous sports improved 20% in math, science, English and social studies
• employees who exercise regularly are 15% more efficient
So how exactly does exercise benefit our brain? Exercise:
• promotes growth of new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis
• promotes production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which improves brain function and enhances learning, and helps preserve our existing brain cells
• reverses shrinkage of the hippocampus (the memory and learning part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s)
• protects the brain from atrophy and white matter lesion in seniors
• improves our brain’s ability to handle stress and reduces anxiety
• increases blood flow to the brain, and
• reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
A variety of exercise works best. Both aerobic and resistance training are important for maintaining brain health as we age. I started working out at the Rosetown Fitness Centre last month to get more fit, build some muscle, and keep my fat weight down. Looks like I might be getting smarter too!
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.