It stopped me in my tracks. Whether it was timing or just the kick in the pants I needed, it made me get up as I was about to write this post. This study is just one more in a growing list proving how physical exercise helps your memory. So I read it and before I wrote this, I got up and took my walk.
Maybe like me you’ve procrastinated a bit on exercising. It’s been a busy summer. I’m out of my normal routine. It’s a busy new season. The list of excuses could go on and on but I haven’t been exercising as often as I should. I wasn’t just laying around eating dark chocolate, but I wasn’t exercising as I should, either.
The study that stopped me found “people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in brain blood flow in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health”, according to lead author, Dr. J. Carson Smith. While it didn’t necessarily show cognitive decline, it did show decreased blood flow. The participants were all healthy, physically fit older adults (ages 50-80 years) who stopped exercising and had their cerebral blood flow examined before and after this 10 day period. The blood flow was significantly decreased in eight brain regions, including the areas of the left and right hippocampus and other regions known to deteriorate quickly with Alzheimer’s disease. The takeaway is this: stop exercising and lose cardio fitness AND brain blood flow. In previous studies in rodents, exercise increased the growth of new blood vessels AND new brain cells.
We can’t always control what happens in our brain and memory. But we do have control over whether or not we exercise. So that’s why I got up, right then and there and exercised. How about you? Right now, either get up or if you can’t, make a plan to exercise TODAY to help your brain and memory. You and your brain will be glad you did!
Wondering how else you can help your brain? Since it’s back to school-we are jumping on the bandwagon and offering 25% off our MemoryMinders Academy subscription. What more motivation do you need to exercise your body and mind? Check out MemoryMinders Academy here or contact me to see if it’s right for you or a loved one!
Alfonso J. Alfini, Lauren R. Weiss, Brooks P. Leitner, Theresa J. Smith, James M. Hagberg, J. Carson Smith. Hippocampal and Cerebral Blood Flow after Exercise Cessation in Master Athletes. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2016; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00184