Exercise your ageing brain

If you were told to exercise your brain you would likely think of crosswords, Sudoku, Kurosawa films, and Hemingway novels. All of these things will certainly get your grey matter pulsing but there are other ways to exercise your brain and keep it functioning as you age; such as exercise for instance. There is no doubt anymore that your brain/mind and your body are one integrated unit and a new study has shown that physically exercising your body will improve your brain function as you age.

Subjects in the new study included adults aged 65 and over who showed no signs of cognitive decline. For six months duration they were put into one of four groups; one that did not have monitored exercise, one that exercised for 75 minutes per week, one that exercised moderately for 150 minutes per week, and one that exercised for 225 minutes per week.

After six months the results of mental function tests showed that all of the groups who exercised showed some benefit. The benefits were particularly in visual-spatial processing which is the capacity to perceive where objects are in space and how far apart they are from each other. Those who exercised also showed an increase in overall attention and the ability to focus.

The more someone exercised, the more benefits they received however, the researchers noted that the intensity of exercise was actually a greater predictor of benefit than the amount of exercise. So to really get brain benefits from your exercise you have to do it in such a way that it lifts your overall fitness levels.

If you really wanted to come up with a pithy little epithet to go on your t-shirt, you might summarise this as “Fit body, fit mind” or in case you wanted to buck the modern trend and live a life beyond slogans you might just want to see your entire being as an integrated whole and live accordingly.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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