I’ve talked enthusiastically about the positive effects of exercise on the brain and cognitive function. While most research has been done involving aerobic exercise, a new study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine conference June 4, 2010, revealed that resistance training also increases a brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF, or ‘miracle-gro’). Why is this important? Because not everyone gets excited about doing aerobic exercises; some people prefer resistance, or strength training. I always say that life is all about having options…….

More brain stuff. Most people assume that cognitive decline occurs with age, and it’s true that ~70% of aging persons do suffer decline. But, another 30% maintain cognitive function. Why? Maybe genetics, but more probably lifestyle choices, according to researchers. They followed 2509 older people for 8 years and found that what sets these groups apart is that the group that maintained function were more likely to: exercise, drink alcohol moderately, not smoke, and work or volunteer. They were less likely to: be overweight, have high blood pressure, and have diabetes.

If you notice the latter; overweight, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of these can be addressed by a proper diet and exercise. As Dr. Paul Nussbaum, PhD., an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says, “Your brain doesn’t care how old you are-and doesn’t care; it just wants to be in a stimulating environment, and that’s something you can do at any age.”

What are you waiting for?

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.