Neurocognitive Decline Slowed by Exercise

by Daniel on March 2, 2011

Exercise provides benefits in countless ways. For some, it lessens stress and prevents obesity. For many others however, it’s after effects aren’t always physical.

A recent study from the National Academy of Sciences provides that prolonged amounts of exercise can actually promote heightened cognitive functions, particular to the brain’s hippocampus (memory center). As we age, it’s been stated that the
brain loses 1 to 2% of volume each year. The effects of this are seen in ailments like dementia.

The study was quite simple actually – 60 Americans in their late 50s to early 80s walked 3 times a week for exactly 40 minutes. Another 60 performed yoga and various toning exercises. Using MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), it was demonstrated that the hippocampus in the walkers increased by 2% in volume. This was against a controlled experiment in which it shrank by 1.4%.

According to researchers, both groups showed tremendous development on spatial memory tests. Similar results demonstrate that most effects were prevalent in the anterior hippocampus, as opposed to the posterior. The anterior typically shows the most declines during these late stages of life.

Interestingly enough, physical exercises 3-4 times a week can help with things like anxiety, sleep disorders, metabolism problems, and short-term memory and self-esteem issues.

It’s only natural that after a great workout session, we feel better about ourselves. This comes hand in hand with naturally raised levels of endorphins throughout the body. These endorphins help relieve tension and psychological distress; they trigger positive feelings in the body, similar to that of morphine. Also known as “runners high,” this feeling can give anybody a positive outlook on life, and lead to increased satisfaction. Furthermore, this promotes habits that can be viewed as exercise for the brain, or mental stimulation.

Of course, everything is connected in one way or another, but increased physical exercise always seems to yield both physical and cognitive benefits.

Jim Rollince of Gym Source, distributor of home training equipment includingtreadmills, bikes, ellipticals, home gyms and more!

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