National Senior Health and Fitness Day just passed, a good reason to revisit what scientists know about exercise and brain health, and not just for seniors.
The Dana archives do not disappoint. Here’s what articles spanning the last six years tell us:
- Exercise and longevity are correlated. As explained in a 2008 interview with Dana Alliance member Claudia Kawas, “An average of 15 minutes a day provided benefit, 30 provided more, 45 provided the most, and after that it leveled off: three hours was just as good as 45 minutes.”
- Conversely, a 2009 article describes, “studies of large elderly populations have linked a sedentary lifestyle to greater risk of age-related cognitive impairment.”
- The improved circulation that exercise causes leads to cognitive benefits, including new blood vessel formation and new neuron growth in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory.
- Exercise can boost the release of serotonin in the brain, leading to improved mood. Some doctors recommend prescribing exercise as a treatment for depression, saying that even a 30-45 minute walk six days a week can lead to improvements.
With all this evidence of the benefits of exercise, maybe Miss Piggy shouldn’t be my fitness guru.