Community Updates Blog

5 Reasons keeping active helps with brain health

Exercise provides a wide range of benefits for people of all ages, including seniors. One often-overlooked benefit of regular physical activity is improved brain health. This is because many studies have shown that exercise encourages the growth of cognition and memory in nearly all people and may reduce the risk of developing certain brain-related diseases.

Exercise Enhances Cognitive Function

One of the greatest benefits of physical activity for older adults is an improvement in cognitive function, which is the function of the brain that involves daily critical thinking. This is because exercise stimulates growth within the brain, such as the growth of new blood vessels that allow the brain to perform better over time.

Studies have even shown that a small amount of exercise over a six-month period can greatly improve a person’s cognition. This exercise should be at least moderate in intensity, and aerobic exercises like walking are intense enough to provide benefits.

Exercise Reduces the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Since activity can improve cognition, it may also prevent cognitive diseases or delay the onset of those diseases. These include dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which overwhelmingly affect older adults. Seniors can also prevent mental health illnesses such as depression by exercising regularly. This is not only because physical activity promotes the growth of new brain cells but also because it helps the body produce and maintain hormones that are connected to feelings of happiness.

Exercise Helps Regulate Mood

The hormones that are released during exercise, specifically endorphins, not only decrease the risk of depression but may improve a person’s overall mood. Mood regulation is key to lowering stress too. With lowered stress levels, seniors can enjoy a better quality of life and prevent additional diseases such as high blood pressure, potentially leading to a longer life.

Exercise Improves Sleep Quality

Poor sleep is directly linked to poor memory and concentration, so getting enough sleep is vital at all ages. For seniors, not getting enough sleep may cause daytime fatigue, confusion, tension in the body and mood swings. A lack of sleep can also cause falls, which pose a major risk of injury for older adults.

Studies conducted by the American Psychological Association suggest that about half of all seniors struggle with insomnia, which is the inability to sleep. To prevent or lessen this, exercise should be implemented. Exercise promotes good sleep patterns because it elevates the body’s temperature, and the lowering of that temperature after physical activity can cause sleepiness.

Exercise Increases Neuroprotective Factors

Neuroprotective proteins are certain proteins that protect the neurons in the brain, which are the source of all brain functions. Research over time has shown that regular exercise can build and maintain these proteins, thereby protecting the overall health of our brains. This may even help delay the onset of some neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, or help improve the symptoms associated with these diseases.

Seniors wanting to start and keep up with a regular exercise routine should consider joining groups or classes that help older adults learn new exercises. If you are part of a senior living community, these classes may already be available for you to take for free. Crane’s Mill is a retirement community that provides plenty of wellness options for seniors, including multiple classes, a fitness center and an indoor heated swimming pool.