There is no doubt that physical activity is advantageous to us physically and emotionally. But now scientific data supports the fact that physical activity will, indeed, keep you young longer. Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was startled to discover that exercise kept a strain of mice from becoming gray prematurely. But shiny fur was the least of its benefits. Indeed, in heartening new research published last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace.
And while we all know that exercise does contribute to the maintenance of physical youth, scientific data also supports that exercise substantially changes the human brain, affecting both thinking and emotions. Whether you gain all of the potential cognitive and mood benefits from exercise may depend on when and how often you work out, as well as on the genetic makeup of your brain. They also gave blood for genetic testing. Earlier studies had shown that exercise can increase levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotropic factor. This increase has direct impact on the memory patterns of the brain and the ability to recollect.
In fact, evidence suggests that exercising regularly during middle age and beyond is an enormously effective way to promote just the sort of old age boomers dream about: independent, robust and free of chronic disease or disability. Exercise maintains healthy blood vessels for good circulation in the body and brain. It also helps people manage their weight and cope with stress. And exercise stems age-related losses in bone density and muscle mass while it keeps the heart and lungs strong.
Study after study consistently concludes that people who exercise live longer than those who don’t and, in addition, have a reduced chance of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and depression. Trying to do something physical for 30 to 60 minutes each day is a great goal to set. Still, any exercise is better than none, and health benefits can come from any amount of physical activity. Breaking exercise up into 15 or 20 minute segments is an excellent option for those that don’t have time to exercise for an hour or who don’t yet have the stamina.
In addition to maintaining that “forever young” appearance, the addition of exercise to your lifestyle will most assuredly keep you out of the doctor’s office longer for all of those complaints and ailments associated with old age. So, next time you head to the sofa or reach for the remote, instead consider heading in the direction of a treadmill and reach for those weights.
“How Exercise Can Jog the Memory.” Well. Web. 18 July 2012. “Can Exercise Keep You Young?”.Web. 18 July 2012.