When we are young, we can remember a billion things without fail. As we age, we are tied to our planners, sticky notes, cell phones (with calenders), and various others things to keep our minds on track. Sure, you can take supplements to help with memory and mental alertness, however, researchers have found a cheaper way to keep your mind sharp as you age.
Studies were done on both animals and humans and show that exercise has the ability to keep your mind sharp and help with dementia. According to John J. Ratey, writer of the book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.” He believes that exercise could help you regain 10-15 years of cognitive function.
The neuroscience of all this is complex. Researchers have shown that exercise helps produce a protein called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor,” which “improves the function of neurons, encourages their growth, and strengthens and protects them against the natural process of cell death,” according to Ratey’s book. Working out also may improve blood flow in the brain, as it does in other parts of the body. It may even delay accumulation in the brain of plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease (source).
Since Alzheimer’s is growing rapidly, it’s important for humans as a species to do everything they can to prevent this disease. It is estimated that in the next 40 years the occurrence of Alzheimer’s will quadruple. Since the longevity of these patients after being diagnosed averages 10 years, exercise could be the key to preventing it.
Mind and body together are a very powerful thing. They have the ability to keep you healthy as well as work against you. Make sure you are on the winning end. Take care of your body and it will in return take care of the mind that makes you mentally strong.