Could exercise be the “fountain of youth?”

July 24, 2013 

Research indicates that any exercise that increases your heart rate may reduce your risk of dementia and even reverse the aging process by as much as 25 percent, or 10 to 12 biological years. So, could exercise be the proverbial Fountain of Youth that Ponce De Leon was looking for back in the 1500s?

According to a report published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, exercise plays a part in our cognitive health in addition to our physical health. J. Eric Ahlskog, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic said, “We concluded that you can make a very compelling argument for exercise as a disease-modifying strategy to prevent dementia and mild cognitive impairment and for favorably modifying these processes once they have developed.”

Other research claims that walking at least six miles per week, about two and a half hours, may protect brain size and in turn preserve memory or significantly improve memory problems, especially in those of us over 50. Now that is walking only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, really not that much when you consider the benefits.

We have known for a long time that exercise is a great way to improve cardiovascular health, but maybe in the future, exercise will also be recommended to protect our ageing brains. More than 26 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease and this number is expected to grow to 106.2 million by 2050. What if we could protect ourselves from this dreadful disease by simply walking?

Our ability for aerobic exercise starts to decline at middle age and decreases every decade. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, maintaining aerobic fitness through middle age and beyond can delay biological ageing and prolong our independence during our mature adult years.

Exercise is very cost-effective and is associated with numerous physical benefits. Some of the positive effects of aerobic exercise include reduced risks of serious disease, faster recovery after injury, illness or surgery. We also have a reduced risk of falling because of the continual use of our muscles and better balance.

Numerous times I have observed members at our fitness club that are in the ‘mature adult’ category challenge themselves to improve their personal wellness. Whether it is a weight loss, endurance or a balance issue, they all improved their own personal situation very quickly just by becoming more physically active.

Take charge of your personal wellness. Start today.

Judy Schmoeger, a longtime resident of Lee’s Summit, is owner and general manager of Anytime Fitness.

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