By William Pullen
Recently The BBC news website ran a piece based on an article in Neurology magazine about how “running may keep thinking skills”. I’ve included it below as I think it illustrates another benefit of exercise. Although the research concerns younger people I believe the benefits of movement whether it be walking, tai chi, or running, are available to everyone. I need to include my usual addendum that DRT is not about getting fit nor about colluding in fantasies of perfection. Instead DRT aims to promote what Dr Jacobs refers to below as “total fitness” which incorporates social, physical and mental aspects of health. And for those that just want to talk/walk/sit and not run it’s very much there for you too. DRT is talk therapy first. By doing that in outside spaces with “mother nature” we already begin to break up rigid thinking.
As mentioned before, we don’t aim for perfection so “total fitness” is a concept we hold lightly for those who subscribe to a more holistic understanding of health. Sometimes, for some people, it’s better to just sit down on a park bench. For others, the info is below:
• Aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age, according to a US study.
• Activities that support cardio fitness – such as running, swimming and cycling – led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.
• Scientists say the research, reported in Neurology, adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health.
• Cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles.
• Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes” They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.
Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.
People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to do better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences. “Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr. Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,” he told BBC News.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may cut the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age.