Keeping Your Brain Healthy And Smart
Keep Active And Learn New Things
Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D.
For years fitness enthusiasts have suspected that exercise
positively affects the brain as well as the body. But while
it seemed logical that an active lifestyle would help the
brain, the scientific evidence was lacking.
Now several biological studies indicate that working out does
benefit the brain.
The reasons to get moving are greater than you think. Now
researchers are finding biological evidence that exercise
benefits specific brain mechanisms. And, it even contributes
to growing new neurons! While we used to think that the brain
loses cells as we age, we now know it is not true for those
people who keep active and learn new things.
Much of the new research suggests that exercise positively
affects the hippocampus, a sea-horse shaped brain structure
that is vital for memory and learning.
In one recent study, researchers found that adult mice doubled
their number of new brain cells in the hippocampus when they
had access to running wheels. The fact that the mammalian
adult brain can increase its number of brain cells is surprising
in itself. This is good news for aging adults. It was once
thought that the brain stopped producing new brain cells early
in its development. And presumably brain power dimmed as cells
died over the years.
But in the past decade, researchers have found definitive
evidence that the brain continues to generate new brain cells
throughout life, even in humans. Studies indicate that challenging
environments, which include a number of components, such as
pumped-up learning opportunities, social interactions and
physical activities, are key to boosting the growth of new
What does this mean for humans? We can keep our brains healthy
by entering into new situations, new games, and new social
group activities. And if we can keep learning new things,
and engage in physical activities, we can continue growing
new brain cells.
We can redefine "senior moments," if we take advantage of
opportunities to learn and move. No more excuses for forgetting
things for the older population.
Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D. is a retired psychologist who
writes a blog for Keeping Your Brain Healthy at http://www.brain-FX.com.
She is founder of Mind-FX Science, LLC, producer of healthy
supplements for the brain called "Fuel for the Mind." She
can be contacted through her blog.
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