Regular Physical activity is well known for improving our heart and lung health, it reduces risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and also keeps our bodies in good shape. Research shows that as well as these great benefits, exercise is also vital in keeping our brains functioning well. Our Brain health is important for reducing risk of developing conditions such as Dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease but a term used describe over a 100 different diseases affecting brain function, such as language, memory, perception, personality and cognitive skills.
In 2015 1 in 10 Australians over the age of 65 had dementia and it is projected that by 2050 over 900,000 Australians will have Dementia. Currently Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia. It has no known cure but research shows that regular exercise reduces the risks of developing Dementia and is also beneficial to those already diagnosed with Dementia. More reason to stay active as we get older!
How does Exercise Improve Brain Function?
- Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
- Promotes growth and maintenance of brain cells, for example evidence shows that exercise induces fibroblast growth in the hippocampus which is brain tissue associated with short and long term memory storage. More recent evidence shows that reduced loss of hippocampal brain tissue is associated with level of fitness.
- Studies show exercise increases areas of the brain that usually diminish with dementia, for example cognitive function.
- Exercise increases spatial memory and promotes new nerve connections in the brain.
How much and what type of exercise should you do?
American College of Sports medicine (ACSM) and Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) supports research findings that you should exercise at moderate intensity for at least 150minutes per week.
Evidence also suggests that combining both aerobic and resistance training is beneficial to brain function.
Keep it simple and fun! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. Mix up your activity to keep it interesting.
Suggestions: Walking, Cycling, Yoga, Tai Chi, Swimming.
For more information please go to Alzheimer Australia at www.fightdementia.org.au
Need help setting up a regular exercise program that will benefit your health? Call us on 1300 122 884 and book in with an Exercise Physiologist today.
Written by Rhiannon Northcott – Accredited Exercise Physiologist with Generation Physio & Allied Health