New studies from the US have shown how brisk walks can slow down the shrinking of the brain and Exercise & Sports Science Australia suggests all Aussies take note and hit the footpath.
“The study by the University of Pittsburgh suggests that undertaking even a modest amount of exercise can lead to reversing the age clock by one to two years,” says ESSA Executive Officer, Anita Hobson-Powell.
“We all know the benefits of exercise in terms of body image but people often forget how much exercise affects those organs behind the scenes. Getting off the couch and getting moving can affect every single part of your body in a positive way.”
The study included more than 100 adults (aged between 60-80 years old) who confessed to doing little to no exercise in their daily lives, were recruited. Half were randomly assigned to walk for 30 to 45 minutes three days a week. The rest spent a similar amount of time doing stretching exercises.
Medical scans showed minor increases in the two brain regions in both groups. But the effect was greater in the walkers.
These modest amounts of exercise showed there was an increase in the size of the structures which typically deteriorate and precede the cognitive complaints that often come in late adulthood, in particular the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus increased in size by only 2% or 3%.
“Many often think you have to sweat and suffer in pain to feel the effects of exercise, it is not all about ‘no pain no gain’,” explains Anita.
“No matter what age, exercise is essential and it is important you seek out a professional who can help you exercise right. Exercise physiologists can work with people of all ages, from young children to Australia’s veterans.”
“Remember it is not necessarily about how much you exercise, it’s about making sure you exercise properly for who you are.”
Findings from Professor Kirk Erickson, a neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh who was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting.
Physical activity and brain plasticity in late adulthood: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3622473/