Exercise may improve brain health

April 28, 2014

Physical activity plays a positive role in brain health.

Regular exercise enhances memory and refines thinking skills. In fact, intense physical activity such as martial arts appears to increase the size of the hippocampus, according to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia. The hippocampus is the brain area that involves verbal memory and learning.

This is good news for a person with or at risk of developing dementia. This brain-related illness involves the loss of mental functions, including thinking and memory, the Alzheimer’s Association reported. On a global scale, one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds. Researchers estimate that over 115 million people will have dementia all over the world.

The Harvard Health Publication explains that exercise releases chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of blood vessels in the brain, as well as the survival of new brain cells. Individuals at risk of developing dementia may want to consider enrolling in a martial arts course.

Additionally, a Kinesiology researcher in the University of Maryland School of Public Health conducted a study that revealed moderate physical activity protects brain health and prevents shrinkage of the hippocampus. Both of these studies point to the importance of exercise for older adults at risk of developing a degenerative brain disease.