Now gym bunnies have even more reason to feel smug…
Time to crank up that gym regime (or, erm, start one…), because scientists have proved that exercise can keep our brains looking an impressive TEN years younger.
As if we didn’t already know that exercise has a gazillion benefits – think better bones, a healthier heart, greater strength and improved moods – a long-term new study by the University of Miami shows we can now add longer-lasting smarts to that list as well.
Indeed, working up a sweat can reach deeper than any anti-ageing cream ever will, helping us have a sharper mind, improved memory and better cognitive skills when we’re older.
For the five-year study, each of the 876 participants, all aged over 70, underwent a number of tests, including MRI scans, to access the health of their brain. They were then asked to detail how much exercise they did, ranging from ‘no exercise’ or ‘light’, such as walking or gardening, to ‘moderate/heavy’, eg running and swimming.
At the end of the five years, the researchers found that the brains of the non-exercisers looked a decade older than those who did moderate exercise, as well as having greater memory loss, higher blood pressure, and even evidence of undetected strokes – suggesting a strong connection between vascular health and better brain power.
But don’t think that this means you can lie about the sofa, only working up a sweat once your seventies come into sight – the study crucially revealed that you need to start exercising now to feel the benefits, as exercising once symptoms appear won’t be able to do much to improve health.
‘Once there’s damage, you can’t really reverse it,’ says Dr Clinton Wright, who led the study.
Oh. That’s us told.
And if you think a little pootle around the shops qualifies as exercise, think again.
‘It seems like we’re not going to get off easy,’ adds Dr Wright. ‘There’s increasing evidence that it needs to be exercise that gets your heart rate up.’
Scientists are still working out just how much exercise is the right amount, but anything is better than nothing, so time to lace up those trainers.
You know it’s the smart thing to do.