Stretching exercises may be highly touted as a means of increasing flexibility and warming up muscles prior to more strenuous physical exertion, but when it comes to increasing brain power, recent research has found that aerobic exercise can increase the volume of the brain.
According to a report by Drs Susanne Craft, Ph.D. and Youngkyoo Jung, Ph.D. released by the Radiological Society of America last November, aerobic exercise can stave off Alzheimer’s by preserving the volume of cerebral matter as well as improve performance on executive brain functioning tests. The latter refers to the mental skills including short-term memory, planning and prioritizing activities, keeping track of things mentally, and “taking the initiative,” etc.
In fact MRIs taken before and 6 months after a study involving 36 participants (averaging 63 years of age) with moderate cognitive impairment showed that the group which performed such activities as spin-cycling, regular bike riding, jogging and walking on a treadmill 4-times a week had greater total preservation of their brain volume and an increase in gray matter, than the (control) group that did only stretching exercises In fact, the group that only stretched their muscles had “local atrophy within the white matter connecting fibers.”
The key to this may be found in the simple fact that aerobics serve to reduce oxidative stress within the body caused by free radicals and environmental stressors (i.e positive ions). In fact, excessive oxidative stress has been blamed for contributing to everything from premature aging, fatigue, depression, and inflammation, to more than 600 neurological diseases listed in by the United States National Library of Medicine, including brain tumors, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy, etc
Meanwhile it has been found that aerobic exercise, defined as “any sustained, rhythmic activity that affects large muscle groups:” can help fend off Type 2 Diabetes, as well as related diabetic retinopathy, while people who perform regular physical activity reportedly have fewer cataracts than “couch potatoes,” not to mention reduced risk for macular degeneration and the progression of glaucoma.
Note: While aerobic exercise certainly plays an important part in fighting oxidative stress, it needs to be combined with other healthful habits such as reducing the amount of red meat and processed foods eaten, as well as limiting the intake of alcoholic beverages and cutting down exposure to cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. In addition, it is important to make sure you are getting ample amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as C, D, and E.