We’ve pounded the drum on exercise being the best single thing one can do for brain health.
There is much cool new news for both adults and kids on this topic.
But first let’s recap:
· The landmark study on exercise and brain health was done in 2002 by Professor of Neurology at University of California-Irvine Carl Cotman, PhD and Nicole Berchtold, PhD, also of UCI. They found that exercise directly improves brain function. Previously, the assumption was that the benefit was indirect through improved heart function causing better blood circulation in the brain. Research here.
· Dr. Yorgi Mavros of the University of Sydney and Dr. Nicola Gates of the University of New South Wales research showed that Progressive Resistance Training (PRT) improved brain function and cognition. Research here.
· Mount Sinai School of Medicine Post-Doctoral Fellows Dominik Moser and Gaille Doucet performed research that concluded that a higher level of physical endurance is associated with better working memory. Link.
· And, in our post that was the most widely read and shared, we summarized the work of Dr. Claire J. Steves and Dr. Ted Spector from Kings College in London that women with the strongest legs compared to women with weaker had superior cognitive performance ten years later. Link.
Good News for Adults
Prabha Siddarth, PhD of the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences published research that lowers the exercise bar a bit. His team recruited a group of older adults who complained of memory problems, but did not have dementia. They were put on a walking program of 4,000 steps a day (way below the popular target of 10K). Participants who walked the four thousand steps had quick, measurable improvement in cognition. Walking more resulted in even better performance. Link.
And Important News for Children
In a bit of a puzzle, we’ve seen press releases about a new research study on children and exercise, but not obtained access to the study itself. We’ve included some information from the release, and cover it in more detail when we can read the underlying report.
The key findings are that active children do better both on tests and in the classroom. Kids getting exercise, presumably of an hour or more a day, have better concentration and longer attention spans. That in turn seems to be due to a larger brain in the areas involved in executive function and decision making. Executive function is the scientific term for our ability to organize activity, learn from past experiences, make plans, solve problems and work puzzles.
Among the areas in the brain involved in executive function are the medial frontal cortex and the lateral prefrontal cortex.
Just Do It
Adman Dan Wieden came up with the slogan “Just Do It” for Nike. Generally considered to be the best-known slogan in the world. Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight hated the slogan, but reluctantly went along. The rest, as they say…
We aren’t recommending that you aim lower. There are numerous benefits from aerobic and resistance training. But pointing out that getting started on even a modest program makes a real difference. Just Do It.
If your 2018 goals include getting in better shape, please consider one of our travel-friendly exercise kits. We’ll throw-in one of our silk sleep masks – an $8.99 value- for free. But only while limited supplies last.
www.BigBrain.Place offers fun products that are good for your brain.