I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted, but, physical activity has an incredibly protective effect on the ageing brain.
Check out this short list of some of the benefits exercise (pulled from a recent study on approx 5000 seniors).
These active pensioners enjoyed:
- an increased in the number of new cells formed in the hippocampus (the hippocampus is crucial for learning and memory)
- an increase in blood flow to the brain
- a dramatic increase in the number of connections between neurones,
- an increase in brain volume (especially in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain involved in executive control and, again, memory processes).
What does that all mean?
Those who exercised were less likely to lose their mental abilities or develop dementia.
What about physical activity's effect on the ageing body?
"It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with ageing was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense, says Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic (and this study’s senior author). In fact, older people’s cells responded in some ways more robustly to intense exercise than the cells of the young did — suggesting, he says, that it is never too late to benefit from exercise."
- G Reynolds, The Best Excersice For Aging, New York Times
Bottom line, to delay age-related decline, get your parents moving. Get your parents on the program.