Studies suggest that we may put ourselves at more risk of cognitive decline if we don’t maintain our health & fitness. They have proven the significant impact of lifestyle on one’s physical health, but the decline in cognitive functioning seems to be inevitable as we grow old. And so, it is also important to look at how health & fitness affect our cognitive function and brain volume.
Health & Fitness Key to Maintaining Cognitive Function
Our brains shrink as we get older. As this happens with an inactive lifestyle, the risk for cognitive decline and dementia increase. To minimize loss of brain volume, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine conducted a study aimed at determining the modifiable factors associated with brain aging.
How Did They Do That?
To study the effects of exercise and on brain health, researchers had participants (aged 31-49) take part in a treadmill test. Then, 20 years later, the same participants were administered another treadmill fitness test and MRIs of the brain.
Interestingly, researchers found that participants who demonstrated poor fitness levels, including measures of blood pressure and heart rate, during the initial treadmill test were more likely to show smaller brain volume in the MRI scans administered 20 years later.
What Does This Mean for Me?
This study demonstrates that the choices you make during your life, especially those related to health and fitness, have significant impacts on your cognitive health later in life. While our society tends to associate good health with a healthy weight or a decreased risk of heart disease, we have yet to accept that our lifestyle choices have significant impacts on the health of our brain and cognitive function.
Learn how maintaining health & fitness through exercise benefits the brain in this TED video with Wendy Suzuki:
The benefits of maintaining health & fitness are simply superb. With a healthy lifestyle, you may beat the odds of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Plus, you can improve cognitive functioning and lower risks of age-related brain fog. Regular physical activity like aerobics may boost brain volume, protecting memory and thinking skills from declining. So, start investing more in health and fitness today—eat better, go to the gym or exercise at home, read some interesting fitness articles.
What health & fitness tips do you live by? Share them with us in the comments section.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 27, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.