LIVING HEALTHY – ANDY BAXTER– Food for thought – we know a lot more about the brain now than we did twenty years ago. By the end of this blog you will know more about neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to morph in response to stimuli, and neurogenesis – the regeneration of brain cells, than your neurologist did circa 1995. How is that possible? The simple answer is that up until 1998 and thanks to Swedish neurologist Peter Erikson and a host of other researchers from varied fields of expertise, the medical community did not recognize those concepts to be even plausible, much less true.
But there it is, right in front of us.
“But Andy, do you mean to say that we are not born with a fixed number of brain cells that begin dying off right out of the gate until we ultimately run out of cells and are dead?” Yep.
“But Andy, aren’t we to assume that cognitive decline is just the naturally associated byproduct of the aging process?” Nope.
How is this possible? What is the secret ingredient known, inscrutably, to grow new neurons in the brain, integrate them into the neural network, increase cognitive function and decrease cognitive decline, at the same time improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing inflammation in the brain tissue? I’ll give you a hint. It’s exercise.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study of “elderly” individuals who exercised, on average, 20 minutes a day for 24 weeks. That group demonstrated a 1,800 percent improvement in memory, language ability, attention, and other cognitive functions as compared to the control group.
The mind/muscle connection is indeed a strong one, and it’s never too late to get stronger!
Andy Baxter is a Medical Exercise Specialist and the author of Racing Yesterday