Exercise and Brain Function

By Robyn Priebe
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Over the Christmas break I blasted through an audio book while driving back and forth between VT & NY.  The book was “Brain Rules” by John Medina and by far my favorite chapter was the one about exercise and brain function.

We’ve long known about the positive role exercise plays in encouraging neuroplasticity, but this book was just a great reminder and summary of all the benefits. If any of you out there need yet another reason to get excited about movin’ and shakin’ this book might be a good read.

Here are a few of the brain-benefits of exercise mentioned in this book:

  • learning is improved when children are physically active
  • adults who have lost some cognitive function can regain it by implementing an exercise regimen
  • physical activity affects the course of diseases such as depression and anxiety
  • the risk of stroke, dementia, and Alzheimers drops markedly in physically active individuals
  • something simple like walking a few times a week is enough activity to improve cognitive function

If this is intriguing to you, there are multiple short videos on the subject of exercise and brain function on the “Brain Rules” website.

Do you notice a difference in how you think when you are active?

2 Responses (Add Yours)

  • I know that there is a myth out there that exercise will stop dementia. Please take it from someone who knows. It does not do that. It might help slow things down, but if the patient has dementia, it will not reverse it.

    This is the kind of thing that drives dementia caregivers nuts. My husband took 2 hours walks until less than a year before he had to be placed and less than 3 years before the dementia killed him.

  • Robyn Priebe says:

    Stella, thanks for the response. Agreed, it won’t STOP dementia and at no point in this book do they suggest that it’s a cure all. Exactly as you’ve stated it “slows the progression” or reduces overall risk. There’s no magic bullet out there for anything, but it is encouraging to know that in addition to all the other benefits we get from physical activity, that we may also be able to improve our cognitive function at the same time.

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