I Can’t Find My Keys!
By: Alice Burron
You swore those keys were around somewhere, but where did you put them this time? Ugh. It must be old age; you’re losing your memory.
Wait…don’t be so fast to blame your poor aging brain; it might be more appropriate to point your finger at your lifestyle. If your brain came with an owner’s manual, it would certainly say that to get optimum performance from your brain, you need to keep moving regularly (as in exercise) every day.
According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even twenty minutes of activity per day can improve information processing and memory function. Look for those keys after a quick walk and you’ll have a much better chance of finding them.
Just how does exercise improve brain function? Cardiovascular exercise improves blood flow to all areas of the body, including the brain. More blood flow means a more efficient system to aid brain function. Exercise also stimulates the formation of new neurons, especially when the activity involves some skill. An October 2014 study published in the journal AGE from the American Aging Association indicated that significant improvements in brain function occurred with workouts involving cardiovascular exercise with coordination, rhythm and strategy. So grab a partner and go dancing! Not a dancer? Try hiking or varying your workout to include more coordination-based exercises.
Finally, exercise causes a cascade of hormones to be produced. These hormones have singular benefits, such as endorphins, which give you a happy feeling after the activity is complete (more than just a natural thankfulness the activity is over) and growth factors, which act like fertilizer and make brain cells easier to grow new connections. In addition, these hormones released from exercise improves sleep quality, which aids in cognitive function the next day. Maybe with more regular exercise you won’t lose your keys to begin with.
The beautiful symphony of physiological reactions exercise causes creates an environment for your body to thrive, not just exist. Knowing this, don’t you want to go outside for a walk right now? Do it! It will be one of the smartest things you’ve ever done.