THERE are plenty of good reasons to lace up the sneakers and get physical.
It’s benefits in losing weight, feeling and looking better, warding off heart disease, stroke and diabetes are well know, but now scientists are finding it can stave off the brain fog that comes with ageing.
Associate professor Kay Cox is part of ongoing research at the University of WA’s school of sport science exercise and health and says exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and cognitive skills.
Encouraged by results of an earlier study, she’s leading a broader one focussing on people with mild cognitive impairment and concerns about their memory.”
Research is critical with dementia a growing problem worldwide; it’s predicted there’ll be 115 million suffers by 2050.
Exercise reduces insulin resistance and inflammation and stimulates chemicals in the brain that effect the health of brain cells and the growth of new blood vessels.
Indirectly exercise improves mood and sleep and reduces stress and anxiety, which can also effect cognitive impairment.
The exercise regime can be a simple as walking 150 minutes a week, Prof Cox says, meaning the expense of a gym membership’s not mandatory.
“An extra 20 minutes walking per day had a cognitive impact. Walking at a moderate intensity, a little bit puffed, a bit of sweat but still able to talk.”
Establishing an exercise regime early on gives better long-term protection, but you need to keep it up, Prof Cox says.
“You can’t do something when you’re 18/20 and not do anything for the next 40 years. You can’t put points in the bank.”
Memory and exercise is on at Glyde-in, corner Glyde and George Streets in East Fremantle, Tuesday November 29, 10–11am. $12, $8 concession.
by JENNY D’ANGER