During the last year several eminent Journals and practitioners have commented on the direct connection between physical exercise and mental heath. All of the current thinking is that doing moderate exercise several times a week is the best way to keep the mind sharp if you’re over 50.
According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis. It was also found that this remained true even for those already showing signs of cognitive decline.
It has long been know that physical exercise or activity helps to reduce the risk of getting a number of diseases such as type-2 diabetes and certain cancers. But recently the research has highlighted that it also slows the brains natural decline as we enter middle age.
A study by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at Canberra, Australia have concluded that through exercise the brain receives a more blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as a growth hormone that helps the formation of new neurons and connections.
The research conducted over a four-week period at the University of Canberra looked at the effects of structured physical exercise on the brain function of adults. They found evidence of improved cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training had a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise.
The study author, Joe Northey, said “Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done”.
The head of adult health and wellbeing at Public Health England, Dr Justin Varney, said “Whilst every 10 minutes of exercise provides some benefit, doing 150 minutes a week cuts the chances of depression and dementia by a third, and boosts mental health at any age”.
Dr Dean Burnett of Cardiff University, offered up a caveat to the research “It could lead to increased pressure for the 50-plus age group to exercise more in order to stay mentally healthy, which is good advice but also overlooks the fact that as we age it’s increasingly difficult to engage in physical activity, as our bodies are simply less capable of it,”
This is a point taken on board by this blog author and hence the reason why I offer advise on the use of ‘aids to assist in the walking process. I for one am not going to say that walking is the ‘cure-all’ – it is not, there are other issues to take into consideration.