Want to learn how to get your vitality back? No matter what the media says, it doesn’t disappear after hitting age 30.
Not everyone would choose Star Trek to binge on a relaxing weekend. To each their own! With that said, everyone should agree that the famous Vulcan motto “dif-tor heh smusma” or “live long and prosper” in English, is universally a great life plan! To make it come true, you need more than just a healthy body, you need a healthy mind. I call this the BBB connection, which stands for body, brains, and bliss.
You can learn how to get your vitality back by prioritizing your BBB like you did when you were in your 20s. Chapter 4 in my book Fitness After 40 is all about finding your BBB connection to become stronger, smarter, and happier through active aging.
Exercise is Brain Food
You already know a sedentary life slows your body, but you may not realize it does the same to your brain. A weakening body is worrisome, but the threat of our minds slipping is even more alarming. Wisdom is supposed to come with age. I don’t know about you, but as an academic and mother, it’s extremely important for me to uphold that! The good news is that it’s never too late. Enroll in that online course, make that career change, share your story today. Exercise your mind, but don’t forget about your body or you’ll do your brain a disservice.
Happiness is a Short Run
If staying smart doesn’t entice you (I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t) then perhaps staying happy will. A 20-minute intense workout releases powerful mood-lifting endorphins that increase focus and calm anxiety for 12 hours. Studies show that exercise can be as effective as medication to treat depression, which is a widespread problem that only increases with age. You can start off slow to feel more familiar and confident in your body by doing yoga or dancing. Then, continue to explore the capabilities of your body and find an exercise routine that makes your body and brain feel happy. Need help finding a good place to start? We’ve recommended FUN exercises you can do from home based on your unique personality type.
The Research Shows…
After reviewing over two decades of research on how exercise improves brain function and mood, my colleagues and I found that:
- Mobility is the key to get your vitality back; it keeps your brain big and therefore smart. Did you know the brain shrinks? Once you turn 40, your brain loses 5% of its volume per decade. Chronic exercise stimulates the growth of capillaries near your brain, providing a delivery route for nurturing oxygen, glucose, and hormones.
- Exercise improves critical cognitive functions, including memory. Researchers at the University of Washington found that six weeks of exercise improved brain functions like planning, memory, and multitasking in subjects even after mild dementia set in.
- More complex exercises are better for your brain. If you can walk, talk, juggle, and text all while putting your makeup on… you’re on the right path!
Here are some common questions I get once I tell my patients the benefits of exercise for the brain.
- How long do I need to exercise to save my brain? In short, you need moderate to intense physical exercise every other day for the rest of your life. Have fun with it! This can reverse age-related brain loss!
- What if my brain is already healthy? Can exercise improve my brain? Of course! Just two months of aerobic exercise will improve memory and learning ability. This is true at any age.
- What if I already have a disease? Studies found improved cognitive functions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease who exercised. This works by preserving white matter connections and brain volume, reducing the risk of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.
It’s a no-brainer – if you want to know how to get your vitality back and stay sharp, healthy, and happy, exercise is the key!
Still, have more questions? Check out the blog at Women’s Health Conversations to learn everything from preventing osteoporosis to looking your best on your next Zoom call. Did you know that having an exercise partner can help you to work harder and longer during your workouts? Get to know the other aspiring, motivating, and resilient women all across the country at our Women’s Health Conversations Facebook group to find an exercise buddy and support.