Set your phone or computer to beep at you every hour, reminding you to GET UP AND MOVE for 5 minutes. One of the major conclusions of the Nurses Health Study, among the largest (more than a quarter of a million women) and longest-running (almost forty years) investigations of factors affecting women’s health? An eight-decade-long investigation of 1500 Californians found that being active in mid-life was the single most important predictor of good health.
Reviewing more than forty studies on the benefits of exercise, researchers writing in the International Journal of Clinical Practice concluded that regular exercise helps prevent more than 25 diseases and health conditions later in life.
Notice that I placed quotes around natural and age-related because it appears that brain shrinkage is neither. There are many parts of us we don’t want to get bigger as we age, but the brain ain’t one of them.
However, I spent a lot of my life as an academic sitting at a desk or in front of a computer.
When I received the diagnosis of mild brain atrophy, I felt like it was too late to recoup the brain matter that I had lost.
Lauren Kessleris an intrepid reporter, immersion journalist, and mid-life woman on a quest to turn back the hands of time as shedelves into the real science (and the real hucksterism) of anti-aging. Regular physical activity -- even walking -- may be key to maintaining a sharp mind as we get older, two new studies suggest. While that's not a new discovery, the studies plug critical gaps in the scientific literature and corroborate previous reports linking exercise to reduced rates of mental impairment in older adults. The message is now clearer than ever: "If you stay physically active, you're buying protection for your brain," says Eric B. The studies appear in the July 25 print edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine and were published online today to coincide with the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, taking place this week in Paris.
One of the studies included 2,809 women over the age of 65 who had a history of heart disease or stroke, or at least three risk factors for those conditions.
Exercise may be particularly important for these women, since unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and other conditions that affect blood-vessel health have been linked to the memory and language problems known as cognitive decline, which often precedes Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Researchers in Paris and at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, reanalyzed data from a study originally designed to examine the role of antioxidant vitamins in heart health. Beginning in 1995, the women answered biennial surveys on how often they engaged in various types of exercise (such as jogging, swimming, walking, and climbing stairs).

The strong link between activity and a lower risk of cognitive decline was all the more notable given the "very crude" telephone tests used by the researchers, Dr.
A second, smaller study addressed a common weakness of the existing research on exercise and dementia: the reliance on the participants' own description of their exercise habits, which can be unreliable.
In addition to using surveys, researchers used various laboratory tests to gauge the total amount of energy expended by 197 men and women in their 70s over a two-week period.
Compared with more sedentary individuals, the people who expended the most energy over the two weeks had 90 percent lower odds of developing cognitive decline over the five- to seven-year follow-up period -- a "really strong" reduction in risk, says the lead researcher, Laura E.
What's more, the participants’ lab-tested energy expenditure was more closely linked with cognitive health than their subjective accounts of how much exercise they typically get, which suggests that everyday activity, and not just exercise, may help maintain brain health.
We exercise to lose weight, increase strength, or increase health, but what about exercising your brain? Physical fitness, it turns out, equates to mental fitness as well – that there are mental benefits of exercising. So, if you you want to think more clearly, perform better, improve morale, and decrease depression, try physical exercise! One peer-reviewed study reported in the Mensa Research Journal showed that some of these brain games can significantly improve short-term memory. All this developing evidence suggests that the right kind of mental exercises can reshape the brain to become more efficient. The brain strength game exercises influence a range of practical and usable cognitive functions, such as remembering names after the first introduction, remembering the location of objects, multitasking, learning new subjects quickly and accurately, and solving problems faster, even with just three to five 15-minute training sessions per week. Exercise promotes more gray matter in the hippocampus region, which correlates with improved cognitive abilities and memory.
While it’s true that that the hippocampus typically declines in volume at a rate of about 1 to 2% each year after age 40, if regular aerobic activity can, as the researchers found, “provide a significant protective effect that can eliminate or even reverse this shrinkage,” then – hold on – shrinkage is not natural. I was just told yesterday that I have mild brain atrophy, but I am in all other respects very healthy. That's noteworthy because most previous studies on exercise and dementia have focused on healthy people, according to Dr. Several years later, the researchers then gave them a series of telephone-based cognitive and memory tests on four separate occasions spread out over a four- to six-year period.
The tests involve drinking chemically altered water and measuring (via blood and urine samples) how quickly the body breaks down the chemicals.

But neuroscientists are now finding that our brains are constantly changing, generating new neurons and developing synaptic connections, regardless of age, and that certain types of mental fitness games and memory tricks can capitalize on this development to boost brain power. In another study using an adaptive, computerized program, participants demonstrated significantly increased basic math skills, including number sense, and calculation, as well as processing speed, cognitive flexibility, and visual-spatial processing skills.
While there are conflicting opinions within the medical field on the effectiveness of brain training exercises, and even conflicting study results, there is no harm in trying these brain stimulation games, especially since many of the games that mentally stimulate are actually fun brain games. There are ways to gain access for free, such as the Lumosity Education Access Program (LEAP), providing educators with Lumosity memberships for their students. This finding was a shock because I have 2 advanced degrees & am constantly acquiring new information in many areas of interest. The most active women, who were getting the equivalent of 30 minutes or more of brisk walking every day, experienced much slower cognitive decline than those who got little or no exercise. You will see posts from members of the FamilyWize team, our customers and partners and also from our external panel of FamilyWize experts and writers. For a lasting effect, doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, at least three times weekly, with even better effect if you perform 30-60 minutes of exercise up to five or six times per week.
If you or an educator you know is interested in participating in LEAP, you can fill out their online application.
It is, in fact, the cumulative result of inactivity, the effect of lack of vigorous blood flow to the brain, the effect not of the years going by but of the years going by on the couch.
According to the researchers, the difference amounted to being five to seven years younger, cognitively speaking.
Remember, when you ask the heart to pump more blood faster, as you do in exercise, the blood travels everywhere. Other doctors report that one of the effects of exercising is that it appears to diminish symptoms of adult and child attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and may even generate stem cell growth, which stimulates the brain. Your brain is bathed in the good stuff – that’s the scientific term – just like your muscles are.

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