Remember – keep moving: A few more reasons to exercise

Wednesday December 31, 2014

By Kari Wilkinson, CPT, USA Triathlon level II coach

  1. “If you do one thing to keep your brain young, exercise“ says Art Kramer, professor of psychology and neurology at the University of Illinois. Higher exercise levels are better than lower activity levels and can reduce the risk of dementia by 30-40 percent. Higher exercise levels could include walking at a faster pace, including weight training, incorporating short intervals of more intense exercise. People who increased physical activity (at least 150 min per week )  have been proven to increase cognitive functioning and memory when compared to inactive people. Kramer also states “they also have substantially lower rates of different forms of dementia ,including Alzheimer’s disease.” Exercise helps your hippocampus.  The hippocampus is a structural component of the brain located in the medial temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex, part of the telencephalon. Its functions are involved in short-term memory and spatial navigation. The size of the hippocampus tends to decrease as we age. However, exercise increases the size of the hippocampus and helps people maintain cognitive functioning.
  2.  According to Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a University of British Columbia physical therapist, brain functions, such as decision making and problem solving, essential in independent living can be improved through weight training. In 2012 the first randomized controlled trial comparing the effect of cardiovascular exercise and weight training on cognitive functioning in women who were already showing signs of dementia was conducted. It was found that only the women who did weight training showed significant improvement in both memory, decision making and problem solving.