Previous studies have already suggested that aerobic exercise – that’s any exercise that raises your heart rate for a continued period of time – has a major impact on brain health.
Now a new study of breast cancer survivors has shown regular workouts can help protect against age-related cognitive decline and improve memory.
The researchers wanted to see if activities like walking, cycling and swimming could have any effect on “chemo brain,” a side effect of breast cancer treatment that involves memory loss and difficulties focusing.
Their study found women who did daily aerobic exercise were not only less tired than those who did little or no exercise, but they also performed better on quizzes designed to test their memory and attention.
Their conclusion? “Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart,” the authors write.
Time to get moving
So why does it have this effect? Research suggests that it increases blood flow to the brain.
One recent study of older women with signs of dementia found that aerobic exercise was related to an increase in the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls memory and learning.
Aerobic exercise also helps to reduce levels of the body’s natural stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, making you feel more relaxed.
And you only need to work out for 30 to 45 minutes to get the benefits.
That’s backed by another recent study that found for adults aged 60 to 88, walking for 30 minutes a day four days a week for 12 week seemed to improve connections in part of the brain linked to memory loss.
Did you need another reason to get the exercise video out?