Experiencing A Mental Decline? Get Physical!

January 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Exercise protects the brain!  Image by icthus8 on Stock.Xchng Physical Activity is widely recognized as a key to maintaining a healthy brain, and now a new study out of the University of Washington suggests that regular exercise may be an effective treatment for some cognitive declines. It’s a small study, but interesting… read on!

The 33 study participants were all patients from a memory disorders clinic.  With an average age of 70, they were all experiencing mental declines.   Researchers divided them into two groups — one group participated in high intensity aerobic activities for up to an hour each day, while the other group did low-impact stretching exercises, keeping their heart rates low.

After six months, the high-intensity group showed a marked improvement in their mental functions, helping to improve their memories and general thinking skills.  Curiously, the women in the group showed a stronger improvement than the men, suggesting there are gender differences in the impact of exercise.

Why would exercise actually improve mental function?

The researchers suggest that the improvement may be due to a variety of factors, including increased blood flow, a healthier heart and circulatory system, the creation of new neurons, and improved protection of existing nerves and neural pathways, all of which are known benefits of exercise.

Exercise also improves mood, reduces the effects of stress, and encourages better sleeping and eating habits, all of which factor into cognitive health.

And the biggest lesson for lay people from studies like this one?

It really is never too late.

Even at advanced ages, mental declines can be slowed and even reversed by practicing good brain fitness habits.

So if you’ve been losing your car keys a bit more often, or stumbling over your grandchildren’s names? Get physical! Sign up for water aerobics, start going for daily walks, get your body moving and your heart rate up!

Entry filed under: Be Physically Active!. Tags: , , , , .

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About This Blog


A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness

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