Exercise and the brain

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So, it’s January 9th, nine days into New Year’s resolutions.  If you’re looking for a little inspiration to keep up with a resolution to “move more,” as the public health campaign urges, look no further than an article in today’s New York Times, highlighting two new studies on the effects of exercise on the brain.  The connection between exercise and brain health has long been established in the medical community, but one thing that hasn’t been studied much until recently is how long the positive impacts–improved memory, mood and clarity of thought, among others–last should the individual stop exercising.  The conclusion?  Keep it up!

[T]he brain benefits “wear off quickly,” said Dr. Michael Mazurek, a professor of neurology at McMaster, who oversaw the study. “This is analogous to what happens to muscle bulk or heart rate following exercise withdrawal.”

Now, don’t be discouraged and think it’s not worth exercising at all! For one thing, those benefits to the brain can be felt immediately, unlike other long-term health effects of exercise. And the good news is that even a moderate amount of exercise seems to produce these effects. So whether you’re a marathon runner or enjoy walking around your neighborhood with a friend, keep your body moving, and your brain will thank you!  From the article:

 For the ongoing health of our minds, as well as for the plentiful other health benefits of exercise, it might be wise to stick to those New Year’s exercise resolutions.

Finally, don’t forget that we ALL struggle to keep our resolutions. Making behavior changes is  hard, which is why the Spirited Life program provides all our participants with a personal wellness advocate. If you are implementing some new routines in the new year, set up a time to talk with your wellness advocate, and he or she can help you make a plan that works for YOU. (Okay, shameless plug now over!)

–Caren Swanson

image used with permission via Microsoft Word Clip Art

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