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Physical activity can help promote brain health

May. 10, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Physical activity not only benefits your body, it's a great work-out for your brain too. As we mentioned last week, engaging in physical activity on a regular basis has been proven to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, as well as improve learning and memory.

There is also some recent medical research that suggests physical activity may even go as far as helping to reduce the risk of being diagnosed with dementia or significantly lessen its damaging effects.

One of those studies published in the American Heart Association's Journal, "Stroke," showed that older adults who exercised regularly reduced their risk of vascular-related dementia by 40 percent.

Physical activity is great for elevating one's mood, helping to increase self-esteem and improving the ability to react calmly in given situations.

From a physiological standpoint, physical activity allows for more oxygen and blood flow to the brain, thereby fostering an environment for the production of brain cell growth as well as working to potentially improve brain cells that may be damaged.

It can also stimulate certain neurotransmitters to release signals allowing for pain reduction. Additionally, there are also numerous cognitive benefits from physical activity that include enhancing the ability to store learned information, assisting to focus one's attention on certain tasks and aiding in memory improvement.

Before beginning any physical activity routine, it is always best to consult a physician to determine what level of physical activity is safest and most appropriate for you, especially for those already in a declining mental state.

Source: American Heart Association

Healthy Habits 2013 is a partnership among Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and St. Mary's Medical Center. We are a community working together to improve our health. Our goal is a simple one: to inform and encourage area residents on ways to improve their health. Join our conversation and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/healthyhabits2013.

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