By Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RD, CDN
We know that exercise and activity are so beneficial for our health. Exercise helps with weight control and maintenance, helps decrease blood pressure and risk of heart disease, improves glucose control, strengthens our bones, and helps with stress and sleep. Most of us know these benefits, but still we don’t make the time to include enough exercise or physical activity into our lives.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate cardio every week and do muscle strengthening 2 days a week. However, any amount of exercise is better than none.
How would we feel if we knew that by exercising we can improve our brain power at any age? Would we be more motivated to increase our activity?
There has been lots of research citing the benefits of how regular exercise helps keep our brains healthy.
- Studies have shown that children who engage in physical activity have better success in school. One study showed an improvement in reading scores when students engage in a morning exercise program. Math scores improved by 10% after 30 minutes on a treadmill.
- Research from a study in the 2017 The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that a combination of aerobic activity and resistance training for 45 minutes at moderate intensity is associated with gains in brain function in adults over 50.
- A study in the 2017 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that people who walked at least three days a week are half as likely to be diagnosed with dementia as those who never exercise. Other studies have shown that exercise helps fuels the creation of more neurons in the brain helping to slow down degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease.
- Studies have demonstrated that aerobic activity may increase the size of our hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps with memory!
So remember keep moving like your brain depends on it!
Here are some suggestions: Take a walk during lunch. Take the stairs. Pick up some resistant bands. Try Tai-chi or a Zumba class.
The bottom line is that for our brain to function to the best of its ability we need to give it the fuel it needs not only by nourishing our brain with healthy foods, but also with exercise and activity.
JM Northey, British Journal of Medicine, 2017
IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 13, Issue 6
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017.
Psychological Review 1995, Vol. 102
Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RD, CDN has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for the past 30 years, working in a wide variety of clinical and outpatient settings. Daphne currently specializes in Bariatrics and Weight Management.