You already know that exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy heart. But did you also know that it can also protect your brain as you get older? It’s true. New research just in has discovered a pretty amazing fact about the effect of endurance exercise on your brain. It also promises new hope to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients. Here’s what you should know…
Increase Brain Capacity in Just 20 Minutes a Day
Besides boosting your mood, protecting your heart, controlling your weight, now there’s one more very significant reason to get out and do a little endurance exercise every day – your brain health.
What is endurance exercise? Well, for example, a brisk walk, swimming several laps in a pool, riding your bicycle at a good clip, or taking a run around the nearby high school track several times. That’s just a few examples of what you could do – there are many more like jumping rope, rebounding, and hiking. In short, endurance exercise is any aerobic exercise that builds strength and stamina in your heart, lungs and muscles.
And now, researchers have recently learned, endurance exercise also recharges brain function – particularly in older people. It has a profound stimulating effect on the hippocampus, that part of your brain that governs memory and learning.
Researchers at Harvard University’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Medical School have found that endurance exercise releases a specific protein – FNDC5 – that stimulates the growth of new nerves involved in learning and memory. The protein is released during muscular exertion – exercise – and endurance exercise, which typically involves longer, repetitive actions, and helps produce a steady flow of it.
But that’s not all. The researchers were able to inject the protein into lab animals who didn’t exercise with the same effects on their brains as exercising animals. The researchers feel that they can develop this natural protein into a stable drug therapy for use in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in patients.
How can you get the brain benefit of this protein? Get out and do some endurance exercise for at least 20 minutes – everyday would be great, but at least 4 times a week. It may help motivate you if you have an exercise partner who can keep you on track with commitment that is necessary to regular exercise. Studies have shown that people who “buddy-exercise” are more likely to stick to a regular regimen and obtain the desired results.
You can even add some lighter hand weights while walking and swinging your arms that will build muscle in your arms and shoulders. Endurance exercise also helps build strong core muscles that help your whole body move, and function, correctly.
And the more you do endurance exercise, the more results you, and your brain, will achieve. Other research has shown that regular exercise has positive effects on your mental state. It boosts your mood and just makes you feel happier. But, it also does something else quite miraculous…
A recent study out of the University of South Carolina shows that regular exercise actually produces new mitochondria in your brain. Mitochondria are the “powerhouse” energy centers of all your cells that makes every cellular action occur. Endurance exercise actually replaces old, tired energy cells with brand new ones. It also increases another beneficial brain tissue protein, PPARalpha, responsible for preserving memory.
It’s truly a “no-brainer” that regular exercise benefits people of all ages. But, endurance exercise specifically can really be of major assistance to older people to help maintain brain energy, memory and learning capacity. So, take 20-30 minutes out of your busy day to take out some future insurance for your brain health. Every mile you walk, every lap you swim, every minute you cycle, you’re helping your brain stay young and healthy.