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Reverse the Effects of Aging with Exercise

Reverse the Effects of Aging with Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise can reboot your brain function and help prevent memory loss.

“You can’t separate the mind and body,” Jack LaLanne once told USA Today. The Godfather of Modern Fitness, who lived to be 96, learned early in life that exercise (combined with proper nutrition) could give your body and mind a significantly younger RealAge. In his heyday, critics called LaLanne a nut and charlatan, but it turns out he was right.

A study in Neurology reveals that sedentary folks 55 and older with cognitive impairment (difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering) can turn back the clock nine years in just six months by doing aerobic exercise (walking, cycling) for 35 minutes three times a week! Executive functioning—neurologically based skills involving mental control and self-regulation—was what showed notable improvement. And the very best cognitive improvements came to participants who followed that exercise routine and the DASH diet—a low-sodium, high-fiber nutritional plan with lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, 100 percent whole grains and lean proteins.

While this wasn’t a big study, it echoes the findings of another study out of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center that suggested physical fitness is associated with stronger neuron fibers and better executive function in folks with mild cognitive impairment. Other research has also found aerobic exercise increases the volume of the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory.

So, what’s not to embrace? Join an exercise group and have some fun. As George Bernhard Shaw said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

To keep track of your activity, check out the Sharecare app for iOS and Android.

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