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Exercise Keeps The Brains Of Texans Fit As They Age

Aug 17, 2007
Your brain is like a muscle. That's right. Now you've got something else that needs to be exercised. And no matter whether you're a young or old individual who lives in Dallas, Houston or elsewhere in Texas, you should exercise your brain daily.

Researchers have found that one of the reasons people easily forget things is because they memorize too many unimportant things. So keeping mentally fit increases the chances of staying mentally fit as you get older.

Experts believe the degeneration process begins at the age of 40. People only begin to notice, once they hit retirement age, that there's a mental slow down due to the lack of using concentration and memory skills.

Research has shown that memory can be bolstered by performing simple exercises, such as naming famous people whose first names begin with the letter "Z." Other research has shown that people remember better through sound, rhyme and picture associations.

In addition, individuals can also learn by repeating material frequently and will excel if the material is well structured in a quiet environment. Also, breaks in daily routines, such as taking on a new hobby or activity, have shown to be beneficial in keeping the brain active.

Getting a good physical workout can also contribute to mental fitness, as a recent preliminary study showed that exercise may boost a person's brainpower.

In the study, the researchers measured the thinking ability of 20 men and women, aged 18 to 24, after 30 minutes of moderately heavy to heavy running on a treadmill. Once the individuals' heart rates had returned to resting levels, they were wired up to an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures brain waves.

Participants then took two computer tests, one more difficult than the other. These results were compared with results from tests the participants took without exercising beforehand. EEG results showed that exercising increased the speed of the decision-making process.

In particular, brain activity kicked in 35 milliseconds faster after exercise, compared with when study participants did not exercise. Although that may sound like a tiny amount of time, it is actually quite significant. In addition, the respondents answered more accurately after exercise than they did when they had not exercised.

If these findings are true, they can be added to a growing body of research on the beneficial effects of even short periods of activity. One study recently found that ten minutes of moderate exercise daily could improve mood and reduce fatigue.

Another reported that stair climbing for 2 minutes several times a day could lower total cholesterol, raise HDL (good) cholesterol and improve the resting pulse rate in sedentary young women.

The Alzheimer's Association recommends the following to keep your brain young and healthy:

- Stay curious and involved, commit to lifelong learning.

- Read, write, and do crossword puzzles.

- Attend lectures and plays, or take courses at local colleges or community centers.

Be social:

- Stay active in the workplace.

- Join social groups like bridge clubs or square dancing.

- Travel.

Eat smart:

- Certain foods like kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, corn, and eggplant are high in antioxidants and can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

- Cold-water fish, such as halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

- Almonds, pecans, and walnuts are a good source of Vitamin-E, an antioxidant.
Stay in shape:

- Physical exercise maintains good blood flow to the brain and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, which are risk factors for Alzheimer's.

How you treat your body when you're young will certainly affect your health when you get older. Eventually, it will also affect your wallet.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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