By Hugh Finlay
Scientific studies have shown that people who exercised regularly was in better health, including having better brain functioning. In almost 40 studies reveiwed in Australia, it was found that exercise not only prevents the onset of cognitive decline, but also reverses cognitive decline, in people over the age of 50.
The research done at the University of Canberra, found that people doing 4 weeks of exercise, significantly improved their brain functioning. Muscle exercise improved the memory and executive functions of the brain (planing and organizing). Aerobic exercise improved reading, thinking, learning and reasoning ability.
Exercise also reduces the possibility of getting mental conditions, such as depression and dementia, by 35%.
Exercise sends more blood to the brain, which also brings more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The greater blood flow also stimulates the production of more hormones, which are instrumental in creating new neurons and connections in the brain. 70% of the brain connections change every day, thus we can see why, in just a short time, the functioning of the brain can be improved.
The author of the study, Joe Northey, said: "Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done."
In the United Kingdom, medical authorities recommend that people do 150 minutes of exercise a week. It is recommended to do both aerobic exercise and muscle exercise, in order to get the maximum health benefits. But we do not necessarily need to go to the gym. Walking, running or cycling is aerobic exercise; and carrying heavy bags of groceries is weight training.
Health experts in the UK recommend that older people do more gentle exercise, such as T'ai Chi.
Physical exercise, along with staying mentally active, and eating a healthy diet, help to make sure the brain stays healthy, said Dr. David Reynolds, from Alzheimer's Research UK.