Friday, 23 January 2009

Boost your ageing brain

Having been joking with you about walking we will now counter that with the latest research which shows clearly that exercise is the best remedy of all to prevent an ageing brain.

From the age of 40 we lose 5per cent of our brain volume every decade. This occurs because the synapses - the area between brain cells through which information is transferred - erode, eventually severing the connections.

The tiny capillaries that feed the brain also shrink with age, restricting blood flow to the area and so exacerbating the problem. This explains much of the forgetfulness of old age.

Dr Ratey’s investigations have found that exercise can reverse the impact of aging on the brain. The earlier you start the better, because if you have a stronger, more connected brain before the natural aging process takes hold, it will resist damage that much longer.

He cites a study where a group of previously sedentary people in their 70s went to the gym three times a week for an hour.

After six months, MRI scans showed significant increase in brain volume in each of them - their brains looked two to three years younger.

Aerobic exercise - anything which raises the heart rate and gets blood pumping - helps.

So, too, does strength training (either with weights, or using your own body as resistance through push ups, squats and lunges). These all release growth factors that help make new brain cells. Follow the hyperlink that we have given above for a number of suggested exercise programmes that will ensure that your brain may even become younger than your body.

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