Could it be that an active and athletic individual will be sharper mentally later in life than someone who is more stagnant? Research is telling us that that very well may be the case- and that inactivity can actually put us at higher risk of Alzheimer's and dementia. Reasons behind this could be due to the fact that exercise actually encourages the brain to grow new nerve cells. The brain is the master of flexibility and manages to develop new neural connections throughout different events in our lives, neurons are encouraged to work better after exercise due to an uptake in the growth factor in the brain- this can increase blood flow and get neurons firing faster which actually increases our concentration, and even alters genetic patterns.
Other Exercise benefits to the brain include:
* Release of serotonin which improves mood
* Release of endorphins can lessen the sensation of pain
* Release of dopamine improves creativity, memory & learning
* Release of Brain-derived Neurotropic factor (BDNF) protects and repairs neurons from degeneration.
* With regular exercise, over time the Hippocampus (area of the brain in charge of memory and learning) grows in size.
That being said- put down the TV remote and grab your running shoes, tennis racket, bathing suit- whatever tickles your fancy- just get your body moving and your brain will thank you for it later ;)