Exercise, without a doubt, is a vital aspect of healthy living. Its benefits are countless. In fact, humans, as per our physiological design, are supposed to be non-sedentary creatures. Throughout our evolution, we have been hunters, gatherers, farmers, travelers or explorers, and all of this required a lot of physical activity.
But things have been changed in the last ten decades or so. We have seen technological leaps that have confined us to our seats. This immobility or lack of physical activity is unnatural.
People are exercising for so many reasons these days – to look better, to keep heart diseases at bay, or simply for fun.
Recent studies have found another great reason to exercise. Research has found that regular exercise can help improve your memory and your cognitive ability in general. These studies suggest that exercising improves brain’s health in senior citizens more so than people of other ages.
How Exactly Does Exercise Improve Memory?
Researchers explain that exercising helps in the maintenance and growth of the hippocampus, the region of your brain involved in verbal memory and learning.
So what happens is that when you exercise, your heart starts pumping blood faster and this promotes the growth and development of the brain cells. New blood vessels are created in your brain when you exercise. More blood vessels in your brain also mean more blood flow there, and thus better memory and mental health.
Exercise also helps in better insulin regulation and the body’s insulin resistance is reduced. The irregular sugar balances directly affect the hippocampus according to a recent study.
Furthermore, exercise helps in reducing inflammation. Inflammation adversely affects your brain and reducing it can really be beneficial for patients suffering from dementia. Physical activity also promotes the release of growth factors which help the brain to be healthier longer.
Studies have shown that people who exercise have larger a prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex. These parts of the brain control the memory and thinking processes.
Exercise May Indirectly Improve Memory
It is a known fact that exercising is good for your heart. But what is more interesting to know is that the health of your heart is directly correlated to your brain’s health. A strong cardiovascular system can support your brain better by providing blood to your brain more effectively.
Exercise also improves mood and overall self-confidence too. These positive reinforcements also help your brain function better. People who exercise are less prone to stress and depression, which are damaging to the brain’s health.
What Kind of Exercise Is Best for the Brain?
Proper exercise over a course of six months can lead to noticeable growth in the brain. The optimum exercise regimen to aim for includes, regular sessions of moderate intensity, lasting 30 minutes, at least three times a week. Aerobic exercise seems to have better results according to the research.
Regular exercise along with proper diet can benefit the overall health of any individual. But patients with memory issues like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, issues that are seen by many as incurable, have a lot to gain for exercise too. People suffering from these diseases can and should improve and sustain their brain activity through consultations with doctors, who can better guide them towards the frequency and type of exercise they should undertake to maintain their health.
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