It’s Official: Being Physically Inactive Kills Brain Cells

If you think that your couch potato lifestyle will only affect your waistline, you couldn’t be more wrong! Did it ever come to your mind that physical inactivity may in fact affect – your mind?

A recent study at Boston University showed that people who are not physically active in their 40s may end up with less grey matter in their brains by the time they are 60.  Sounds unreal, doesn’t it? But be careful, because this study also showed that this kind of people did worse on a mental test. So if you think that you do not need any exercise to keep your brain in order, think again.

  • Certain behaviors and risk factors in midlife may cause a more rapid brain cell loss later in life.

The study, presented at an American Heart Association conference in Baltimore, tracked more than 1,200 adults for two decades, especially their fitness and brain health. At the beginning, the men and women who were around 41 years old were put through their paces on a treadmill. Their heart rate and changes in blood pressure were noted while the treadmill was going at 2.5 mph. Then, twenty years later, they were brought back for brain scans and mental tests.

The test results showed that the people who were having a hard time at the treadmill – those whose heart rate increased – had fewer grey cells in their brains two decades later. Also, the ones with big increases in diastolic blood pressure showed signs of loss of mental sharpness. They also did worse at decision-making tests.

“Many people don’t start worrying about their brain health until later in life but this study provides more evidence that certain behaviors and risk factors in midlife may have consequences for brain ageing later on.” – said the study lead author Nicole Spartano for DailyMail, adding that the small blood vessels in the brain are very sensitive and vulnerable to changes in blood pressure and can be damaged by fluctuations in it – in other words, it can actually lead to those cells dying out. According to her, tracking these volunteers into old age might show if those unfit at age 40 are more prone to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Regular walks can rejuvenate your brain.

It is a well known fact that people around the world are turning more and more to a “couch potato” lifestyle, whether it is because of their jobs that require them to sit most of the day, or lack of money for pursuing sports. In England, for example, one in 12 people haven’t walked continuously for more than five minutes in a month, even though they had no problems with mobility. Still, every one of us can make time for a walk a few times a week, and this could actually make all the difference. Many studies so far have shown that taking regular walks (at least) three times a week can take up to 2 years off a man’s brain age.

So, if you want to keep your sharpness even when you are old(er), one of the important things to think of is exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything major, you don’t have to put a lot of money into it, and it doesn’t even have to take up a lot of your time. Make it fun, do it with friends or family. Take up yoga classes, dancing lessons or just have a few longer strolls a week. It will make all the difference for you and your health. So, in old age you won’t only look good but you will also be better at solving problems and making decisions. You will lower your risk of brain cells dying out, and will be stronger and more resistant to brain and other illnesses than your peers. Make your old age comfortable and fun with just a little bit more effort!