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Doing Life Together

exerciseAt 90, my dad was just as sharp witted as ever. One of the secrets of his alert mind was his regular exercise. Every day, no matter the weather, he drove to the mall and walked with several of his relatives and friends. Given the frigid and harsh weather of Michigan winters, this was a commitment. Getting in to a cold car, driving in the dark, sitting in the parking lot waiting for the security guard to open the mall, and then shuffling through the snow to the entrance…well, let’s just say that most of us would not make the effort or think it was worth the hassle.  But apparently it is!

His active lifestyle not only helped keep his heart strong, but his mind as well.

We now know that walking several times a week benefits your brain. A  30 minute walk outdoors, on a treadmill or at the mall, two to three times a week, will do it. Add weight resistance and the cognitive benefit improves even more. All that exercise increases blood volume in a part of the brain involved in memory formation. More blood flow is a good thing. And other processes are involved to create new cells. Basically, physical exercise is brain power!

In addition, your risk for dementia is about cut in half if you are a regular exerciser. All that aerobic activity discourages the brain from Alzheimer’s and reduces your risk of stroke.

Depressed or anxious? Again, exercise releases biochemicals associated with good mental health. So much so, that exercise can boost mood, as well as act like an antidepressant for both men and women. My prescription for working on depression? Physical activity along with therapy.

So stop reading about helping your brain. Get off that couch, move and improve your life!

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