Making exercise a part of your daily routine should not wait for your doctor's nod. Studies and medical researches all across the globe signify the importance of regular physical activity. Not only is daily physical activity good for your health, it helps in weight management thereby keeping obesity away. Obesity is one of the biggest health related issues these days which leads to a chain of other health-related complications. Regular exercising also helps in managing stress and increasing the efficacy of treatments and medications for ailments like diabetes. Regular exercising also helps in keeping bones healthy and strong, warding off bone mineral depletion and combatting risks of diseases like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and so on.
Some of the most recent medical studies suggest that regular exercising can:
- Help pateints who are undergoing chemotherapy
- Help in cutting down risks of depression
- May help people with Parkinson's
- Is beneficial for older adults
- Is good for pregnant women and foetal health
A recent study led by Hideaki Soya from the University of Tsukuba in Japan and his colleagues showed direct relationship between brain activity, brain function and physical fitness in this group of older men.
In a study of older men between ages 64-75 years, the researchers found that the fitter men performed better mentally than the less fit men, by using parts of their brains in the same way as in their youth.
The study appeared in the journal NeuroImage and pointed out that as we age, we use different parts of our brain compared to our younger selves. With tasks involving the temporary storage and manipulation of memory, young adults favour the right side of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), while older adults engage both the right and left PFC.
In order to examine whether physical fitness can retain some youthful qualities of the brain, the team carried out aerobic fitness in 60 older men. Men whose physical fitness was found to vary widely were then asked to perform a test to measure their selective attention, executive function and reaction time.
This well-known 'color-word matching Stroop test' involved asking them to name the color of the letters rather than read the word itself. Analysis of the relationship between brain activity and Stroop reaction time revealed that those men that favoured the left side of the PFC while performing the Stroop test had faster reaction times. This indicated that older adults who use the more youth-like, task-related side of the brain perform better in this test.
The researchers also found that fitter men had shorter reaction times. Based on these findings, the researchers correctly predicted that higher aerobic fitness would be associated with higher left-PFC activity. In other words, fitter men tend to use the more youth-like side of their brains, the findings showed.