Healthy Body, Healthy Brain

It is important to all of us that we live long, age well, and maintain healthy bodies and healthy minds.

Over the years our understanding of the importance of looking after ourselves into old age has developed exponentially as the link between regular exercise and improved wellbeing has become irrefutable.

In the next four editions of ‘Healit Self’, we will explore the benefits of exercise for your brain, bones, heart, and mind, based on 5 key principles of exercise:

  • Improves your muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness leading to improved energy efficiency
  • Improves cell reproduction, particularly neurons in the brain
  • Improves your bone health
  • Reduces your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
  • Helps manage your weight and reduces your risk of becoming obese

Throughout this series, we will look at how cutting-edge science has shaped our thinking and helped us understand the importance of helping you plan out ‘Your Year in Fitness’.

Healthy Body, Healthy Brain:
After years of study a simple fact has emerged; “aerobically fit bodies are more energy efficient than those that are out of shape…” But why is being more energy efficient important to our brain health?

Well, pioneering studies in the United States and Asia have found that the brains of men and women who have done regular exercise throughout their lives, function better than those who have lived a sedentary lifestyle. While this seems obvious the science behind it is complex.

Studies show that as we age, the brain requires more energy to function than it did when we were younger. To explain this phenomena neuroscientists have coined an acronym; HAROLD which describes Hemispheric Asymmetry Reduction in older adults.

Since identifying this phenomena scientists have set out to prove whether or not HAROLD is an inevitability of aging or whether it can be limited through regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

Under strict laboratory conditions, scientists measured the physical fitness of men and women of varying ages before setting them a series of memory, attention, and decision making tests while monitoring their brain activity. The results have been staggering.

In young people, tests showed that brain activity is almost entirely concentrated on the left-hand side of the brain yet, when the same tests were carried out on older participants, most required activity in the right-hand side of the brain too, meaning that they had to use far more ‘brainpower’ to complete the task. However, when the results of the tests were matched to the participant’s physical fitness results, a positive pattern emerged, with the most physically fit participants showing little or no activity in their right sides at all. In terms of attention, memory and rapid decision-making, their brains worked much like those of the younger participants. They also were quicker and more accurate in their responses, indicating that they were at an advantage compared to their older, less physically fit counterparts.

So, good news for those of you embarking on ‘Your Year in Fitness’. The better your fitness, the better your cognitive function and the better the efficiency of your brain. And to top that off, compression wrapping supports brain health too by increasing blood flow and enhancing the delivery of oxygen to our muscles.

Do you know what the best part is? It’s never too late to get into shape, a healthy body DOES equal a healthy mind.

Don’t be like HAROLD…your brains destiny is your hands. Your year in fitness starts here…