Dr. Randy Martin: I have always told you that exercise is good for your heart and overall cardiovascular health. In fact, a recent study found that as little as 15 minutes a day of regular exercise can prolong your life by three years. But what if I told you that regular exercise is one of the absolute best things you can do for your brain?
We all fear as we age that we are going to lose memory or even develop dementia. When dementia occurs, not only do you lose memory, you also lose your ability to organize tasks and use language.
While we don’t yet know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, we do know that there are vascular risk factors for dementia.
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Not exercising
- Having high blood pressure, especially in middle-aged adults, that is left untreated
How exercise affects your brain function
Now, more evidence continues to show that regular exercise is one of the ways you can help maintain your memory and forestall any forms of dementia. There are two recent studies from the Archives of Internal Medicine that add more weight to this argument.
A brain anatomy lesson
On each side of the brain’s temporal lobe is the hippocampus, which is the area where our memories are formed and organized. As we age, or if we are sleep deprived or experience high stress levels, we can experience a loss of volume in the front of the hippocampus, which can decrease our memory.
These fascinating studies show that regular exercise keeps up the volume of the front of the hippocampus, which may help maintain memory.
The bottom line? One of the best ways to preserve your brain function and your memory as you age is to be active on a daily basis. This is important not only for your brain, but also for your overall health.