Here at Optimum Health Solutions we have a great community of clients that are motivated and enthusiastic about exercise and healthy living in their older age. One question I am constantly asked (mostly in good humour) is “What can you do for my brain box?” I sometimes respond with “Sudoku, crossword puzzles or stay socially active by joining committees or groups.” Yet what I mostly say is exercise!! Studies have shown that regular, moderate intensity exercise maintains blood pressure, weight, improves mood, increases energy and keeps the heart healthy, which all contribute to a healthy brain. But what is happening in the brain?
Increased Hippocampus Volume
The Hippocampus plays an important role in the consolidation from short to long term memory and spatial navigation. As we age it decreases in size and is one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage for those with Alzheimer’s disease. A randomised, controlled study of 120 adults showed that aerobic exercise training increase hippocampal volume by 2%, thus reversing age-related loss in volume by 1-2 years.
Increased BDNF Expression
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is produced in the hippocampus and has two main functions:
1. Signal brain stem cells and muscle satellite cells to convert into new neurons and new muscle cells.
2. Protects neuro-motors from degradation
Basically BDNF acts like a fertiliser for the brain’s neurons, making them grow more quickly and develop stronger connections. It helps prevent, and even reverse, brain decay aswell as age-related muscle decay.
How Much Exercise Should You Complete?
According to studies it is unknown to the exact amount of exercise but the recommendations are similar to our recommendations at Optimum:
Aerobic Exercise: 5 x 30min (150min) of moderate intensity exercise.
Resistance Exercise: 2-3 x 30min of strength training.
Exercising once or twice a week will simply not cut it so come in to your local Optimum gym and talk to an Exercise Physiologist. If you or someone you know is struggling with their health and memory. REMEMBER, we are here to help.