Exercise protects against brain shrinkage in old age

Written on Friday, November 9th, 2012 at 12:21 pm by Christiane

To all of you out there, who are trying to stay mentally sharp well into high age: Throw out all of your brain training software or videogames such as memory activities.  You are just wasting time, at least according to a recently published study in the Journal Neurology of the American Academy of Neurology. Instead, start running, biking, swimming, hiking or whatever kind of physical exercise you may prefer. The study showed that only physical activities were a significant neuroprotective factor.

Close to 700 people in Scotland, all born in 1936 and 70 years old when initially surveyed by the researchers participated at the study. They were asked about exercise habits and physical activity level, and also about their social life with friends and family or whether they did mentally stimulating activities.

Three years later, at age 73, the participants were given MRI brain scans. The result was that those, who did more exercise had less age related brain shrinkage and fewer white matter lesions. Participation at socially or mentally stimulating activities on the other hand didn’t make a difference in regards to the aging effect on brain size.

In conclusion, there seems to be no way around it: If we want to stay physically and mentally healthy as long as possible, exercise is the method of choice.

For me, these are expected but not necessarily welcome news. I don’t enjoy working-out and exercise though I’m regularly running 15 to 20 miles per week even in winter. I started a few years ago when age-related weight and health issues became bothersome. As I found out, it’s tough to completely change your lifestyle when you are already over 50 but with self-control and motivation, it’s doable.

It’s much easier when you have outside support and this is where a life coach can really be of tremendous assistance. A life coach will help you to set the right goals and develop a plan with you how to achieve these goals. There are many things to consider: for example don’t set the goal too high to prevent disappointment but high enough to be challenging. Also, if you add roughly three hours of exercise time per week as recommended, where do you find the time in your schedule? What would you be willing to give up to free time for exercise? How could you incorporate physical activities in your daily schedule like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the post office or mowing the lawn and raking the leaves yourself instead of hiring a company? A life coach will also cheer you on and celebrate your victories with you. I’m a life-coach and psychologist myself and I know I couldn’t have done the change from a couch-potato lifestyle to running a 10 k  without using my professional knowledge for my own benefit .

This being said, it’s a nice sunny and moderately cold November day outside and I will go now for my daily run.

This post was written by Christiane Turnheim. Christiane is life-coach at Coach4U.net and teaches psychology at a community college in Massachusetts. Email her for a free introductory coaching session at <http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=Z2t2SXRWbX9-2FJCtFQ1RWFUpIC3BVNUlyU0w-3D_19> .

More about the topic exercise: http://www.coach4u.net/content/healthy_lifestyle_coaching/#entry_675

Sources for the blog entry: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162331.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

http://www.aan.com/press/index.cfm?fuseaction=release.view&release=1111

One Response to “Exercise protects against brain shrinkage in old age”

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