It is sometimes feels like exercise is just one of those added extras to fit into a busy day. Fitness instructor Sheree King puts things into perspective though. Daily exercise is critical for maintaining good health long-term, AND staying mentally fit.

Some learning experts believe that almost 70% of brain ageing is controllable through mental and physical exercise as well as a good diet. The human brain needs to be challenged and the more it is used the better it becomes. Animal studies have found that aerobic forms of exercise boost cellular parts of the brain, thereby improving problem-solving and other cognitive abilities in older people. The benefits even appear to assist the nerves of the brain that are already diseased or damaged.

Researchers at the University of California, looked at the brain function of 6,000 women over a period of eight years in a study called Women Who Walk Remember. It was found that for every extra kilometre walked per week, there was a 13% less chance of a decline in cognitive function, and with increased exercise, this percentage reduced even further.

Unfortunately, almost half of 12-21 year olds do not take part in exercise on a regular basis. In 2001, it was reported that school children spent 4.8 hours per day on the computer, watching television, or playing video games! Almost one-fifth of people 18 and over exercise for less than 10 minutes a week. Let’s look at some studies with mice to see how detrimental this sort of lifestyle is for our brains.

Studies with mice show there are increased numbers of cells in the brain as the mice ran further. If these mice then became sedentary, most of the new brain cells died. Mice were also split into two groups. Group A were allowed to run on a wheel as much as they wanted to and ran an average of 4 – 5 kms every night, whereas group B had no running wheel. After several weeks, both groups were given several tests to complete. Group A completed the tests far quicker, and in memory tests, the scores for Group A were almost double that of Group B. Furthermore, when their brains were dissected, Group A had about twice as many new brain cells as Group B.

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It’s never too late to start on an exercise programme! Even people who are 70 years or older, and have undertaken very little exercise throughout their lives, can benefit both physically and mentally from starting to exercise. Sedentary middle-aged and elderly rats placed on a walking program showed improvement in learning and memory.

It has also been found that the younger age that good exercise habits are formed, the less chance there is of Alzheimer’s in older age. Read More >>

What an incentive for mums, dads and their children to develop a good healthy lifestyle in their earlier years!

Sheree KingAbout Sheree King
Sheree is a Kingston-based group fitness and boot camp instructor, personal trainer, Registered Nurse and zumba instructor. She is passionate to see people of all shapes, ages and fitness levels become fitter and stronger, body, soul AND spirit.
You can connect with Sheree at Spice Fitness.