It seems that when most of us think of aging, we only think of our outward appearance — the lines and wrinkles that appear on our faces, the sagging of our jawline and the expansion of our waistline.
At best, we might think about how our joints creak or how it’s more of a challenge to do the things we love.
But often we forget that our brain ages right along with the rest of our body, aging that can lead to cognitive decline and even dementia.
Luckily, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have now proven that there is a way to slow, and maybe even prevent, how the brain ages — and there’s an added benefit for your skin, too.
Higher brain volume and healthy brain aging
Scientists have found huge amounts of evidence that suggests that engaging in regular physical activity could help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. They say that the reason it works is that people who stay active have lower metabolic and vascular risk factors that could explain the healthy aging of their brain.
That’s part of why the new 2018 Physical Activity-Guidelines for Americans recommends that while some physical activity is better than none, for substantial health benefits, you should shoot for more than 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week.
But the truth is that no one really knew how much exercise you need to keep your brain young. That’s exactly what Boston University researchers set out to discover.
Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, the team found that each additional hour spent in light-intensity physical activity was equivalent to approximately 1.1 years less brain aging.
Did you get that?
Not only did they find that just a single hour of exercise is equal to over a year less brain aging, but that all it took was light physical activity to increase your brain’s volume and slow brain aging — not moderate or vigorous intensity exercise.
“Every additional hour of light intensity physical activity was associated with higher brain volumes, even among individuals not meeting current Physical Activity-Guidelines. These data are consistent with the notion that potential benefits of physical activity on brain aging may accrue at a lower, more achievable level of intensity or volume,” explained Nicole Spartano, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
In other words, you don’t have to exercise hard to keep your brain young, you just have to move.
More brain (and skin!) help
Other ways to boost your brain health to slow its aging are:
• Try cognitive training — From online brain games to crossword puzzles, keeping your brain active can help keep it young.
• Control your blood pressure — High blood pressure is linked to negative changes in visual processing, recognition and processing speed and could predict future cognitive decline. Take steps now to manage your blood pressure to ensure your brain gets the oxygen and blood supply it needs to stay healthy.
• Use brain food — Sixty-four clinical studies and more than 2,800 research papers have proven the nutrient phosphatidylserine to be a remarkable brain food. In fact, a multi-university study showed that it can roll back 12 years of mental decline.
Now, even though the prospect of a “younger” brain is vastly important, you might be just as excited to learn that regular exercise can slow your outward signs of aging, too…
Researchers at McMaster University compared skin samples of a group of folks in their 60s before and after beginning regular aerobic exercise. They reported that the “before” skin samples were thickened and dry. But the “after” skin samples showed a reversal of the aging process.
With the latest evidence making it clear that exercise could be the key to slowing the aging process, it’s more important than ever to stay active. Shoot for regular, light-intensity activity and use the other tips above to keep your brain healthy and sharp.
Light physical activity reduces brain aging —EurekAlert
Younger Skin Through Exercise — The New York Times