There’s no question that exercise is a healthy habit. In addition, most can agree that you will feel better when eating a healthy diet. Yet many don’t realize that these habits can actually aid in protecting aging brains. As we age, our brain functions decline. Regardless of whether someone has dementia, memory and other cognitive functions may suffer. However, new clinical trials have shown significant differences in the aging brain of those who participated in moderate exercise. In fact, it may even reverse any mild effects of aging.
This Health Day article tells us just how beneficial exercise is for aging brains. Older adults who regularly walked or rode a stationary bike could improve some of their cognitive functions. Of course, it will not fix major brain diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Yet most older adults experience some form of cognitive decline. This study focused on older adults who had mild impairments in thinking and memory skills.
In particular, an improvement in executive functions were clearly seen. Executive functions are the brain’s ability to plan, organize, regulate behavior, and focus. Furthermore, those adding in a healthy diet to their routine showed even greater improvements. It is unclear exactly why these improvements are seen. But researchers believe that it is in part due to increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
It is never too late to begin an exercise routine. You don’t have to be training for a marathon to see these benefits. Try taking a daily walk around your neighborhood. Inviting a friend or caregiver to join can make it more fun and motivating. If walking is a challenge for you, try a stationary bike. Sitting and pedaling at an easy pace can make a difference. Remember, anything you can do is better than nothing. While exercise won’t cure the effects of normal aging, you will certainly feel better, both mentally and physically. Give it a try.