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Can Exercise Keep Your Brain Young? Which Exercises Can Prevent Cognitive Decline?

As the human brain grows, its wiring and abilities continue to evolve throughout a lifetime. However, the brain begins to shrink in size after age 40. As a result, there is a reduction in blood flow to the brain, and hormone levels and neurotransmitter levels decrease. The ageing process causes some functions, such as learning new tasks, to slow down. Can we prevent this decline? Can cognitive functions be improved? Can exercise keep your brain young?

Studies have shown that people who run, swim, or engage in other moderate exercises have brains that look, on average, ten years younger than those who do not exercise. Regular exercise may help older people maintain their cognitive abilities longer [1][2].

Brain And Exercise: Is There A Link?

Point 1: Exercise may benefit from stimulating the creation of new neurons in the brain. During the development of new brain cells, neural progenitors can be found in the hippocampus, a brain structure that plays an important role in memory and learning [1].

Point 2: Several studies have shown that neurogenesis in adult rodents helps maintain certain cognitive skills, including learning about the environment and navigating it. Additionally, some rodent studies have linked regular exercise to neurogenesis - the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain [2][3].

Point 3: Studies have shown that exercise may not prevent Alzheimer's disease but may delay its onset [4].

Point 4: Two years of exercise, healthier eating, and brain training can improve people's memory, according to one study [5]. Aerobic exercise is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia and may slow down dementia.

Point 5: Another study found that two and a half hours (150 hours) of physical activity per week could boost your synapses and slow the brain's natural ageing process and dementia. This is because exercise maintains the brain's health by enhancing the connections between brain cells by producing a class of synaptic proteins. As a result, they facilitate the exchange of information between neurons, which aids in the effective functioning of the brain [6].

Point 6: According to the Alzheimer's Society, regular cardiovascular exercise does not simply involve playing a sport or running. Daily activities such as brisk walking, cleaning, or gardening may also be considered exercise. In addition, cooking and cleaning can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to one study [7].

Point 7: According to some experts and studies, walking, golf, bowling, and yoga do not count, and people should begin exercising before they begin to experience memory loss. Moreover, a large part of this is determined by your genes [8].

On A Final Note...

The importance of exercise and physical activity as you age cannot be overstated. They contribute to the health of your body and brain. Keeping your body and mind active will prevent loss of physical mobility, slow age-related cognitive decline, and keep your brain youthful.

There is a need for further research to determine how much, how long, and what type of exercise people would require to experience cognitive benefits. In addition, identifying the factors underlying the effects of brain proteins on the brain may also aid in developing therapeutics to reverse the symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.

Story first published: Wednesday, July 27, 2022, 17:00 [IST]
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