Friday, April 10, 2009

You mean crossword puzzles aren't enough?

It takes more than crossword puzzles to keep a healthy brain!

Combine Physical and Mental

Exercise We've all heard that mental exercises exercising memory and problem solving can help to keep our brains healthy and vibrant.

What researchers have found out is that physical exercise not only is good for the heart and general circulation, but also contributes significantly to keeping the brain young.

As professional service providers dealing with challenges involving people as well as data, we need that brain power to perform our work effectively.

Human Studies Came After Studies With Rodents

After earlier studies on rodents showing that those animals that spent a lot of time running in exercise wheels had better brains than the sedentary rodents, studies were begun on humans.

Less Brain-Tissue Shrinkage

Scientist measured maximal oxygen uptake (a gauge of aerobic fitness) in 55 subjects during walking and treadmill tests. They used subjects with fitness levels from sedentary to those in peak-performance fitness. The physically fit subjects had less age-related brain-tissue shrinkage than the inactive subjects.

MRI Aids In Research

With the help of MRI's (magnetic resonance imaging), the researchers saw that the tissues affected in the brain that are crucial to memory, learning, and carrying out ideas in the mind were very different in the various subjects. (frontal, temporal, and parietal regions)

Decline Can Start In Middle Age

These abilities are the ones that start to decline as early as middle age, particularly in new situations. Studies have shown that increased physical activity in middle age can help to prevent or delay the onset of diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of senile dementia, in which there is a marked decline in brain function and memory.

Researchers found that combining strength training with aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes had the greatest impact on cognitive function. (University of Illinois)

School Children Not Getting Enough Exercise

What concerns me is how the brains of the computer and video game generation will be affected by the lack of physical exercise. It is estimated that nearly half of young people ages 12 to 21 are not doing vigorous physical activity regularly. Less than one fourth of children are getting at least half an hour of any type of daily physical activity in school. School children spend an average of 4.8 hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games.

Increased Productivity

Increasing exercise for all ages would be a great benefit for all of us. Healthy brains increase productivity and full engagement in whatever we are doing. Combining physical activity with memory exercises gives the best results for a healthy brain.

Next Steps

What are you doing now to improve the blood flow and oxygen delivery to your brain?

Deciding on what type of exercise you would enjoy and DOING it on a regular basis will determine your short and long term thinking skills.

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