Exercising will get the heart pumping, sweat flowing, and brain focused. Cardio/aerobic exercise can have significant and beneficial effects on both the mind and body and is well supported by a wealth of research with bodies of evidence that continue to grow including 2 recent studies just published in the journal Neurology and the journal Aging Cell.
Middle aged women who are physically fit were roughly 88% less likely to develop dementia in a study involving 191 women with the average of 50 for 44 years. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg assessed subject cardiovascular health using cycling tests to group subjects into one of three categories: unfit, moderately fit, or fit. Over 44 years subjects were screened regularly for dementia with 32% of unfit subject being diagnosed with dementia, one quarter of the moderate fit subjects being diagnosed with the condition, and only 5% of the fit women developed dementia. Links were shown between fitness and decreased risk but was not able to prove one caused the other, even still this work adds to several other studies suggesting powerful links between exercise and brain health.
In another study 125 amateur cyclists in the age group of 55-79 were evaluated and compared to 75 people of similar age who either rarely exercise or never exercised. Cyclists subjects were found to have more muscle mass and lower levels of body fat and cholesterol than the sedentary subjects . Cycling subjects were observed to also appear to have younger and healthier looking immune systems, especially regarding the thymus which is a key organ responsible for generating T cells. The thymus begins to start shrinking at around 20 years of age and T cell production starts to dwindle. Thymus glands in the cycling subjects looked as if they belonged to younger people as well as their bodies were producing just as many T cells, findings which provided evidence of regular exercise being a viable solution to the problem of living longer but not healthier.
The only way to build muscle was once thought to be done by resistance training, recent review of 14 studies published in the journal of Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews found that men performing 45 minutes of moderate to intense cardio 4 days per week had 5-6% increases in meg muscle size, showing that if done properly aerobic exercises can lead to muscle growth.
Aerobic exercises train the body to use oxygen more efficiently, especially swimming which gradually reduces 2 important indicators for cardiovascular health: the resting heart and breathing rates. A study comparing cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other heart health metrics across 46,000 runners, swimmers, walkers, and sedentary subjects found that regular runners and swimmers had the best metrics, closely followed by walkers.
As people age many become less active, over time this inactivity can lead to some muscles in the heart to stiffen; the left chamber of the heart is one of the muscles that plays a huge role in supplying the body with freshly oxygenated blood. 53 adults divided into 2 groups participated in a 2 year study of either supervised exercise 4-5 days per week or yoga and balances exercises. Subjects in the higher intensity group saw significant improvements in heart performance, and findings suggested that some stiffening in the heart may be prevented or reversed with regular cardio exercises based on 5 years of studies.
Exercise has the ability to exhilarate and relax, while providing stimulation and a calm to counter depression and dissipate stress, cardio workouts seems to lift spirits due to the ability to reduce levels of natural stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Swimming, running and similar activities increase overall blood flow to provide the minds fresh oxygen and energy which is another factor that may help lift spirits.
Cardio exercises change the makeup of gut microbes that play roles in inflammation levels. In subjects that exercised 3-5 times per week for 6 weeks researchers observed increases in concentrations of butyrate fatty acids that helps keep guts happy by tamping down on inflammation and produces energy.
13 studies were reviewed on how cardio affects cholesterol and it was found that aerobics was tied to decreases in LDL bad cholesterol, and was linked to increases in HDL good cholesterol.
Several studies have found that cardio helps prevent type 2 diabetes along with better management of symptoms by improving the way the body uses blood sugar. Modest exercises were found in a study to cut subjects risk of developing diabetes by close to half. A single cardio session has been found to increases insulin action and glucose tolerance for over 24 hours, and one week of cardio helped improve whole body insulin sensitivity.
People over the age of 40 who engage in regular cardio activity were found to have healthier skin, with their overall skin composition being more comparable to that of 20-30 year olds than that of their peers. Though not clear as to why elevated levels of IL-15 found in skin samples critical to cell health may explain why.
A pilot study of depression had subjects spend 30 minutes walking on treadmills for 10 consecutive days with findings showing activity was sufficient enough to produce clinically relevant and statistically significant reductions in symptoms of depression.
Adults with MCI in the age group of 60-88 walked 30 minutes per day for 12 weeks in one study, with results showing strengthened connectivity in brain regions where weakened connection have been linked with memory loss.
300 Breast cancer survivors were examined in a study designed to measure attention and memory, at the end of the study period subject who had done cardio every day were significantly less tired and performed better in brain quizzes.
86 women with MCI in the age group of 70-80 were randomly assigned to do one of 3 exercises twice a week for 6 months: aerobic training, resistance training, or balance training. Aerobic group subjects were found to have significant increases in hippocampal volume, more studies are needed to determine what effect caused it has on cognitive performance.
In short exercise really is the closest thing to a free miracle anti-aging drug available to anyone, worldwide which affects both the mind and body.. All one has to do is get moving. It is still suggested to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program to make sure it can be done safely, and should you have a condition work with your doctor to come up with a routine that is right for you. Be well.
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