Move your feet, feed your brain

April 22, 2013 —

If you aren’t crazy about physical exercise, even at moderate levels, here’s something that might literally change your mind: Brain researchers say exercise is the best thing you can do to benefit your brain and defend against dementia.

Epidemiologist Bryan James of Rush Alzheimer’s DIsease Center in Chicago recently was quoted recently by National Public Radio’s “Shots” health blog that brain decline is not an inevitable aspect of aging. “It’s simply not pre-destined for all  human beings,” he said. “Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia.”

Your brain is better on exercise.

Your brain is better on exercise.

Further, “Shots” described a study by Art Kramer, a neuroscientist and director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, in which he scanned the brains of 120 older adults. Half of the group then started a program of moderate aerobic exercise of 45 minutes of mostly walking, three days a week. After a year, the MRI scans showed the volume of the brains of the aerobic group had actually increased.

Also important to a maintained brain are protecting one’s heart health, keeping one brain active (while evidence of mental exercises’ impact on the brain is less conclusive, Kramer said, such activities can’t hurt), leading an active social life and consuming foods that may help nourish the brain, like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Given that red wine contains the latter, “Shots” noted, “Kramer jokingly suggests that the best advice might be to join a book group that walks and drinks red wine while talking about the book.”

Umm, where can I sign up for that?

Seriously, do something nice for your noggin today: Grab a friend and go for a walk.


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