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January 1, 2005

Save your brain; get off your butt

Men who exercised less had 2.6 times greater reduction in cognitive function than men who maintained physical exercise as they aged. Also those who exercised less intensely as well exercised less had 3.6 times greater reduction in cognitive function, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

There have been other similar studies that suggest the same; the increased flow of blood to the brain during exercise might be what keeps cognitive functioning fresh, and may stimulate nerve cell growth in the brains memory centre.

Memory and cognition are not the only things protected by exercise as we age; a US study at John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore shows that exercise such as cycling, walking, weight lifting can reduce abdominal fat stores, high cholesterol, and elevated blood sugar levels - all of which are risk factors for serious disease.

It is also accepted that weight bearing exercise like weight lifting can maintain bone density, prevent muscle atrophy, and maintain the bodies' metabolic rate. We used to believe that after age 30 most humans would begin showing symptoms of "metabolic disorder" - a slowing of the bodies metabolism as we age accompanied by loss of lean muscle tissue.

As it turns out, that information refers only to those who reduce their physical activity. In fact, weight training can increase lean muscle tissue up to age 80 and probably beyond. What this means is that if you are ageing and losing muscle mass, it most likely has more to do with a lack of physical activity than with age alone.

Exercise is not a panacea that cures the natural process of ageing, but it will significantly reduce the rate at which the symptoms of aging occur, and in most cases will halt and even reverse loss of lean muscle mass right up to our 60's and beyond.

Don't succumb to the false notion that we may as well give up as we age. Get off your butt and save your brain, save your body. The fact is, our cognition slows and we get fat and out of shape more so because of less physical activity, not because we age.

- Cris LaBossiere

2005 Rhino Fitness/ Cris LaBossiere

Copyright 2004 Rhino Fitness. All rights reserved.
For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca