Exercise & your Brain

Getting or staying fit in midlife reduces the risk of dementia. Now scientists are discovering which activities have benefits and why. Over the past decade scientists have discovered that there are intriguing associations between staying fit in midlife and keeping mental decay at bay.

What to do to keep the brain in shape

● Regular resistance exercise with light weights — enough to make you sweat — has been found to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, crucial for growing new brain cells, found exercise scientists at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, in a report published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport

● Circuit training at the gym for more than three months boosts cognitive ability and blood flow in the brain, physiologists from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, reported in the journal Age

● Taking daily bouts of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) for 30 minutes five days a week is associated with improved brain structure and function, reported kinesiologists from the University of Maryland in the journal Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience in 2014

● Walking briskly, running or cycling — cardiorespiratory exercise that makes you breathless — is linked with sustained cognitive power in older age, according to Professor Ulrik Wisloff of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology cardiac exercise research group

● One or two hatha yoga sessions a week over six months appears to benefit a range of areas of the brain that are associated with clear thinking, memory and emotional self-control, according to an analysis of 11 studies conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois.

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