With the Melbourne marathon recently occurring, why not educate you all on some glorious benefits aerobic exercise (especially running) has on the robustness of our health and well-being.
We are lectured by allied health professionals (with good intentions) to perform aerobic exercise on a regular basis. And thus we know the cardiovascular benefits associated with this. So…Knowing my obsession with the brain, I’m going to give you all some brain bombs!!!
Ageing is associated with cognitive decline and deterioration of grey/white matter in our brain. Our grey and white matter is important for our central nervous system and all the complexity’s that go on, typing this blog is requiring my white and grey matter! . If we lose tissue (atrophy) in areas of our brain that process information like are Pre-frontal, Temporal and Parietal regions of our brain, our ability to function is going to decrease and if you do the math you know wants going to happen next.
But never fear because all of our cognitive abilities can be enhanced and reversed with aerobic exercises.
Here are some benefits!
Aerobic exercise can reverse age related cognitive declines and improve executive function and task orientation.
Aerobic exercise improves cognitive function in older adults who are demented (dementia)
Aerobic exercise increases grey matter volume in our pre-frontal circuits. Huh? That means there is more neuronal cell bodies, axons, dendrites and so forth that are important for communication and motor control.
Aerobic exercise increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus along with cerebral blood flow. Neurogenesis is the growth of immature nerve cells and along with increased blood going to the hippocampus which is where are short-term long-term potentiating takes place, basically your memory will improve.
Lastly are Anterior cingulate cortex,which has been shown in functional imaging to be closely correlated to increased signalling in pain and pain intensity along with behavioral conflict quiet’s down with aerobic exercise. This will make you less sensitive and responsive to negative/painful situations.
So to the practicality.
The Australian physical activity guidelines recommends 150-300 min of moderate activity a week at the minimum. So this can be 20-30 min of moderate aerobic exercise over 3-5 sessions, which will give you the physiological/neurological benefits. BUT, we can always do more!
Well there you go! I have barely scratched the surface, but I’m sure I have got you meta-cognitively thinking about dusting of the cobwebs and getting a sweat up.
Aerobic exercise effect on cognitive and neural plasticity in older adults.
Br J Sports Med. 2009 Jan;43(1):22-4. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2008.052498. Epub 2008 Oct 16