Research on age-related dementia continues to accelerate as our US population grows ever more top-heavy. According to the US Census Bureau, within the next 15 years there will be more older adults than kids for the first time in our country’s history. Learning how to improve the quality of our aging years has never been more important.
We know that consistent exercise helps maintain and improve physical and neurological health as we age…but how much do we really need to make a difference? According to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) it might be easier than we realized.
Based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, which included 2300+ participants, low-intensity exercise (such as walking) was correlated with greater brain volume, which could translate into 1.1 to 2.2 less aging of the brain. Despite recommendations of 150 hours of exercise per week – about 21 minutes per day – many participants achieved far less than the hoped-for 10,000 steps to achieve that goal. Even so, scientists discovered greater brain volume associated with every additional hour of low-intensity exercise per week!
What does that mean for you and me? It means every step counts, even more so with each passing year. It means we could cut a year or more off our brain-age by adding just an hour of minimal exercise each week.
Seven practical suggestions:
1) Start your day with a brisk 10-minute walk.
2) Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
3) High-step in place for 1 minute, every hour on the hour.
4) Add 10 minutes and a quick hike to your lunch break.
5) Park at the far end of the parking lot and hoof it to the door.
6) Take a 10-minute evening stroll with friends or family.
7) Get a pedometer or fitness-tracker watch and shoot for 10,000 steps per day…even if you don’t achieve it, you’re bringing youth to your brain with every step!
By Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy
Check out the original research: