Did you think I was done talking about exercise? Well, not so fast—because there’s more new research to share.
And now, a recent study adds to that growing body of evidence—reiterating how regular exercise has the power to protect your brain health for years to come…
Extend your brain’s life
This analysis featured more than 1,600 subjects with an average age of 51 years. Researchers analyzed activity levels at multiple points in adulthood. (That’s important, because these habits are subject to change due to any number of reasons—like aging, work and retirement, chronic illness, or injury.)
Subjects who reported getting high levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in middle age saw their risk of both ischemic strokes and microbleeds drop by nearly one-third in late life, compared to people who reported no MVPA in midlife.
But that’s not all. They also had healthier microcirculation in the white matter of their brains in late life—as did people with moderate levels of MVPA in midlife. (Remember, good microcirculation is critical to maintaining a sharp memory and other key features of cognitive health throughout your lifespan.) This same group also had higher volume of gray matter in late life, which translates to better brain function.
Exercise is medicine
Of course, these findings point to a lot of the same messages I’ve been hammering home for decades now.
Simply put: Exercise preserves brain power. And one of the main ways it does that is by preserving your microcirculation—those tiny vessels that feed your brain the oxygen, blood, and nutrients it needs to thrive.
So if exercise does that for your brain, it just makes sense that it has a similar effect on other parts of your body, too. It can prevent neuropathy in hands or legs, for example—and even boost your eye, kidney, and sexual health. (All of which rely on good microcirculation.)
But there was one catch with this new research. While high levels of physical activity in late life was also linked with fewer brain lesions, less white matter disease, and more gray matter in late life, this association all but disappeared after accounting for factors like high body mass index (BMI) and high blood pressure.
In plain English, that means—in this study, at least—it was too late to save your brain if you waited too long to start exercising. Subjects needed to be exercising regularly earlier in life to reap the benefits.
But in my view, when it comes to physical activity, something is always better than nothing—and later is always better than never.
And when it comes to cognitive decline, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Especially because we still don’t really have any “cure” to speak of. And Big Pharma hasn’t been able to make any significant contributions to this fight. (The drugs we do have for dementia don’t even work well.)
But exercise does work—and it’s something we can all do.
It might take some easing in, but becoming a physically active person is an attainable goal for everyone. Because as I’ve explained here before, even light physical activity—like housework or leisurely strolls—plays into your overall health.
So for the millionth time… whatever you do, just do it. And don’t wait! Get up and move—starting today.
P.S. For additional ways to protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and fight dementia, check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Exercise at Midlife Linked to Better Brain Health in Late Life.” Medscape Medical News, 01/15/2021. (medscape.com/viewarticle/944081)