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Study Indicates Modest Physical Activity May Improve Brain Health

A recently published article in Neurology has underscored the importance of physical activity of any kind – yes, any kind – in contributing to positive outcomes in older adults. No longer do you have to feel the pressure of running a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise, it appears that simple activities may have benefit. Everything from household chores, yardwork, to walks around the block can make a positive impact on overall health including specifically as the article suggests, brain health. The expression “move it or lose it” may be more accurate than we realized, as this study indicates that you should indeed stay as active as possible to maintain and possibly improve brain health! So that Spring cleaning, gardening, yardwork, you may be dreading can be an opportunity versus a bother knowing that not only your house and yard will benefit, but you also will.

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As the weather improves during this season, it is also an important time to consider adding a regular short walk outdoors at a modest pace 3-5 times/week to your regimen. Invite a friend to tag along and you may experience even more spring in your step when an exercise buddy becomes a great source of support and accountability.  Another important attribute of physical activity is its positive impact on mood. While this study did not address this topic, emotional well-being has been pointed to in other research as a powerful determinant of successful aging. There are many ways to add both friends and physical movement to your life. Investigate options at your faith community or in your neighborhood – are there senior centers or senior wellness programs being offered? Many times, these are at no or low cost. Consider signing up for a membership at a local health club or the YMCA – these places often have reduced prices and special programs for older adults who may be open to be an exercise buddy. Include some type of physical activity during family gatherings: a family walk around the block, horseshoes, ring toss, etc. If you have physical limitations due to illness or aging, and limited social/family support, consider hiring a companion to assist in an exercise program. Many home care agencies provide this type of service as part of their overall offerings.

Take advantage of Spring and the potential benefits of physical activity to improve brain health and overall well-being!