Brain exercises includes physical exercise for healthy aging. Ever since science has determined that the brain can change in terms of both producing new neurons and developing new connections between each other there have been ongoing research about brain fitness exercises and aging.
One of the amazing discoveries is that exercising the body also involves brain exercises .Studies compared groups of individuals that exercised regularly to groups of individuals that did not exercise. The results showed that the individuals that exercised usually had better performance in a variety of brain fitness skills compared to non-exercisers.
Early studies have even suggested that moderate to high levels of physical activity decreased the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
The factors that the early studies did not take into account were the individuals that exercised may have differed on other factors such as better diet, etc.
There have been 18 scientific studies done where the subjects were from 55 to 80 years of age. All were screened to be similar as far as diet and mental capacity. There were two groups, one a control group (non exercisers) and the other group was physically active. The results clearly showed that fitness training increases brain fitnessin healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 80.
A similar study, using individuals over the age of 65, with a mild form of dementia, showed beneficial effects of fitness training on brain fitness.
Only one study has researched the effect of fitness on the human brain using brain imaging. The participants had a six month period of exercising three hours per week. The participants’ brains were scanned before and after the training period.After 6 months, it was noted that the brain volume of the aerobic exercising group increased in several areas of the brain compared to the less active group.
Brain exercises and brain volume
The brain volume increases occurred primarily in frontal and temporal areas of the brain. These areas involve the executive function and memory processes of the brain. The researchers do not have an understanding of why the underlying cellular changes might have caused these volume changes. They suspect that these changes may be due to an increased number of blood vessels and an increased number of connections between neurons.
There have been multiple studies done with very small groups attempting to use physical training and brain fitness exercises together. All show that there is improved brain fitness over those that did not participate in any physical activity.
There is much more research to be done on this subject to have conclusive evidence on the effects of physical and brain fitness programs. Consider including all types of exercise into your lifestyle;
- Aerobic activities such as bicycling, walking, chair exercises or hiking to promote better vascular health and weight control
- Start resistance or weight training to promote naturally occurring hormones that make brain cells more resistant to aging
- Take dance lessons, jump on a trampoline for balance, coordination, and agility training
- Jumping rope, throw a ball to enhance cognitive speed and motor skills.
It is never too late to get moving and get those neurons fired up! Remember, it is important to do something new, challenging and have variety in your life for good brain fitness. You can improve your brain and body by some physical exercise everyday! Don’t stop doing your brain exercises.