Can’t remember where you parked the car or if you unplugged the coffee pot? Worried that as you age, your memory and cognitive skills will deteriorate? Never fear—a regular exercise routine will strengthen your brain as well as your muscles! New research shows that even older adults who are physically active have a reduced risk of developing many forms of dementia. So suggests a study in the January 9 Archives of Neurology. The lead investigator was Denise Head, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Washington University, and the senior investigator was David Holtzman, M.D., chair of neurology there. http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=1032204
No doubt about it, a program of regular exercise and healthy eating has immense benefits for the mind.
What’s the best type of fitness program for promoting brain health?
Different types of exercise positively affect the brain in different ways. What you eat also affects your brain health. Here are three scientifically proven lifestyle changes you can make that when combined together are the best way to sharpen those brain cells and protect against dementia.
Three Tips for Keeping Those Neurons Firing
- Eat a nutritious, antioxidant-filled diet. Now is the time to change those unhealthy eating habits. Try to bump up your intake of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and good fats. The more vibrant the color of the plant food, the greater the amount of powerful disease-fighting antioxidants you are feeding your neurons (brain cells). What’s more, the fat you choose to eat also has a huge effect on your brain cells. Omega-3 fat, specifically the fish fat called docosahexanoic acid (DHA), is essential for healthy brain growth and development, as DHA makes up a large portion of the gray matter brain neurons. Because of this fact, DHA has taken on a critical role as a potential therapeutic intervention in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. What’s the best food source of DHA? Large cold water fish that swim in the deep oceans contain the highest amount of DHA as well as the other important omega-3 fish fat, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Some fabulous fish choices high in omega-3s and low in mercury include wild salmon, canned light tuna and catfish.
- Daily cardio exercise. You are probably already aware that regular aerobic exercise is key for keeping your body lean and your cardiovascular system fit. What you might not know is that cardio exercise has also been shown to boost brain power by stimulating the formation of new brain cells, or neurons, and the connections between those cells, regardless of age. Regular exercise is thought to provide protection against age-related cognitive decline and possibly reduce risk of dementias. A program of regular aerobic exercise specifically benefits the brain’s domain of memory and learning. Recent evidence is shedding light on the mechanisms responsible for exercise’s ability to keep the brain fit. The increase in blood flow within the brain, changes in neurotransmitters, and increased production of brain-derived chemicals stimulates neurogenesis (new neuron growth).
- Strength training. You’re never too old to see improvements in brain power with a program of regular strength training. That’s the findings from a recent study published in the prestigious medical journal the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study demonstrated that a regular program of strength training improves cognitive function in women aged 65 to 75 years old. What’s more, researchers showed that strength training also helps the wallet: The strength training group incurred fewer health care costs and had fewer falls than the subjects who were restricted to just balance and toning exercises.
Indeed, the brain is like a muscle—with fitness training it can be toned and sharpened. But you have to keep after it, as with everything it is a “use it or lose it” proposition, as suggested in the research study from the University of Sao Paola Brazil: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/to-keep-the-brain-benefits-of-exercise-keep-exercising/
Managing your own health care and how you age is something to take charge of now. It is a one workout, one meal at a time, over time that will get you there. “Hoping” that the things in your family gene pool won’t rise up against you, like perhaps what your parents or grandparents suffered through is NOT the way to go. The path to longevity is found along the roadway of daily exercise and quality nutrition. If you just can’t seem to get with it, or stick to it, give us a call. Fitness Together Mission Hills offers personal training with qualified professionals by regular appointment in private suites. Exercise and nutritional programs are custom designed to fit your needs and abilities. Call 619-794-0014 for more information or to schedule a free assessment session. See what others are saying about us on Yelp and San Diego City Search.