“What if I told you there was something you can do right now that would have an immediate, positive benefit on your brain, including your mood and your focus?”, asks Dr Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neuroscience at New York University.
In a recent TED Talk, viewed by over 3.4 million people, Dr Suzuki explains that exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain. Exercise improves parts of the brain associated with memory and learning.
“Exercise is not going to cure Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it anatomically strengthens two of the key target brain areas of both of those diseases”, Dr Suzuki says.
Of note, three of the largest benefits are better mood, improved memory and enhanced attention.
A recent study by the US National Institute of Health shows that cognition is improved in older adults, even those with dementia.
“Encouraging evidence indicates that being more physically active is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults”, reports the NIH.
A Swedish study, published in the medical journal ‘Neurology’, showed that women who were in better cardiovascular health had an 88% lower risk of getting dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association promotes exercise as helping to reduce the risk of getting the disease and this is supported by the University of Southern California’s work that shows up to a third of Alzheimer’s cases are preventable through lifestyle changes, including exercise.
The good news is that we don’t have to begin exercising in our youth. Benefits and improvements can be measured and felt in those starting to exercise after fifty years of age. The clear message is “it’s never too late to start exercising for improved cognitive health”.
As always, if you’re new to exercise, a chat with your doctor before starting any exercise programme is always recommended.