The Effect of Exercise on Aging Brains Begins Even Earlier Than We Thought – Run now, remember later.

A recent study reveals that we are never too old to boost our brains.  And the best way to do this is with aerobic exercise such as riding a bike, going for a run, interval walking, or climbing stairs for instance.

And this new research also shows that improvement gets better the older you are. That’s really good news!

That’s because a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein associated with memory and learning which promotes neuron growth is pumped up by  aerobic exercise. This protein has been called for a long time by Psychiatrists to be the ‘Miracle Gro’ for the brain.

This research shows that with aerobic exercise and the pumping up of BDNF one’s memory is sharpened, concentration improves, problem solving abilities are improved, and age-related diseases that cause cognitive impairment like dementia are warded off.

Participants of this recent study ranged in age between 20 and 67 years of age and had below-average fitness levels.  There were 132 men and women who engaged in this study.  Each person was first tested for cognitive abilities. Then the group was split in half, with one half of the group doing aerobic exercise of their choice four times a week at 75 percent of their maximum heart rate, while the other half of the group focused on stretching and core exercises.  Both groups participated in this study for six months.

At the end of six months each participant was retested for cognitive abilities and the results showed that the group performing aerobic exercise had the greatest improvements in brain power.

There is a term that scientist use called ‘executive function’ which is an umbrella term for all the tasks the brain needs to do to help you get things done, like paying attention, planning, organizing, and shifting your thoughts and plans.

According to this study the greatest improvements in executive function were in participants who were 60 years or older.  Their cognitive test results showed as if they were 20 years younger and those in their 40s as though they were 10 years younger. 

Study author Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York, in a press release said that, “Executive function usually peaks around age 30, and I think that aerobic exercise is good at rescuing lost function, as opposed to increasing performance in those without a decline.”

So, given the benefits of aerobic exercise for good increased brain health, get started on an aerobic program soon and start thinking younger!

Leave a Reply