As Health Heart month comes to an end, exercise physiologist Luke Scriven, explores the value of cardiovascular exercise as we age. Aerobic exercise is a type of physical activity often referred to as "cardio" and can include running, cycling, swimming, and walking. But did you know that aerobic exercise also has many benefits for your brain and cognitive health? Here are a few of the ways that regular aerobic exercise can help keep your brain healthy and functioning well.
1. Improves Memory and Learning
Memory and learning abilities play a critical role in our daily lives and are essential for success in many areas. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to increase the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that helps protect brain cells from damage and stimulates the growth of new neurons. Studies have shown that individuals who engage in regular aerobic exercise have higher levels of BDNF, which can result in improved memory and learning abilities.
2. Boosts Mood and Reduces Stress
In today's society, stress levels are at an all-time high. Stress can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health, leading to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercise is a natural mood-booster, as it releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the brain that help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Exercise also helps regulate stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can become imbalanced when stress levels are high. This reduction in stress hormones can help improve mood, increase self-esteem, and reduce symptoms of depression.
3. Increases Focus and Attention
Attention and focus are critical components of our daily lives, and a lack of focus can impact our productivity and overall well-being. Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which can help you focus better and pay more attention. Increased blood flow also helps to oxygenate the brain, which is essential for optimal cognitive function. Furthermore, exercise has been shown to activate regions of the brain responsible for attention and concentration, which can improve overall cognitive performance.
4. Helps Fight Depression
Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Aerobic exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression, with some studies suggesting that it can be just as effective as medication. Regular exercise can help improve mood, increase self-esteem, and reduce symptoms of depression by reducing levels of stress hormones and increasing the release of endorphins.
5. Supports Brain Health as You Age
As we age, our brain function can start to decline, which can increase the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of these conditions by improving blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation, and stimulating the growth of new neurons. Exercise has also been shown to increase brain volume, which can improve overall brain function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
The benefits of aerobic exercise on cognitive health are numerous and well-established. Regular aerobic exercise can help improve memory and learning, boost mood and reduce stress, increase focus and attention, fight depression, and support brain health as you age.
Our team of accredited Exercise Physiologists specialise in creating customised exercise plans for seniors, having extensive knowledge of what would be most beneficial to you as an individual, taking into account any pre-existing health issues. If you are wanting help in improving your exercise habits, or aren't quite sure where to begin, we suggest you make an appointment to speak to one of our friendly staff. Our Exercise Physiologists service Brisbane, Caloundra, the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Gympie and Tin Can Bay. Send us a message or call us on 07 5456 1599 for more information.