With extra daylight hours and sunshine, it is easier and more enjoyable to get in all your daily steps. Staying active in older age not only helps preserve muscle strength and stamina, but recent studies have also found that adopting an exercise habit can improve brain health and boost memory.
According to a recent United Press International Health Day News report, new research shows that when sedentary older adults start to exercise consistently several times a week, they demonstrate improvements in episodic memory – the ability to recall meaningful moments and events.
Episodic memory is the first to show changes in people with Alzheimer’s disease and it is often tested as part of a medical exam for early signs of the condition. The study highlights the importance of including exercise as part of any treatment plan for AD as well as in a healthy lifestyle to promote an active and independent older age.
Walking, which is easily accessible and free for all people, not only is a good form of exercise, it also provides an opportunity to spend time in nature and in natural sunlight. Being outdoors near plants and animals helps to lower stress and exposure to sunlight can support the body’s circadian rhythm, helping to promote better sleep.
Even if you don’t get out for a brisk walk every day, exercising three times a week can provide measurable brain health benefits. It will take about four months to see an improvement, but stick with regular physical activity to improve brain and heart health while boosting mood and maybe even losing some extra weight.
As always, talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and begin slowly, increasing intensity and duration over time. If walking doesn’t bring you joy, try dancing, cycling, swimming or another activity you enjoy. By enlisting a friend to exercise with, you may be more likely to stick with the program and reap the many benefits of moving more.