As people age, the part of the brain — the hippocampus — that is responsible for memory and learning, can actually shrink. But a study published in the neuroscience journal PNAS found that regular exercise can stop and even reverse this age-related phenomenon.
“Exercise helps by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and everywhere, really,” said Chelsea Mercado, SamFit fitness manager. “This stimulates new growth and also keeps existing brain cells healthy.”
The best exercise is the kind that gets the heart pumping – brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, etc. Strength training and balance exercises, while important for muscle tone and bone density, did not have the same effect on memory in the study.
Mercado says experts generally recommend 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate aerobic activity like brisk walking or 75 minutes (25 minutes, three days a week) of vigorous activity like jogging each week in conjunction with strength training activities. This combination provides benefits for both the body and the mind.
If you are new to exercise or are ready to get started, sign up for SamFit. Talk to a fitness coach and get in a workout at one of the fitness facilities in your area.