Adding cardiovascular fitness to your daily routine can benefit more than your heart and waistline. A 2010 study completed by the National Academy of Sciences revealed that aerobic activity not only burns fat and wards off heart disease, but it boosts brain power and inhibits cognitive decline associated with aging.
You don’t have to be an exercise expert or spend hours in the gym or pounding the pavement to reap the benefits. Just 40 minutes of aerobic activity three times per week at your target heart rate can reverse normal brain shrinkage and improve memory function. And the even better news? The effects were observed in subjects as old as 65 years – regardless of your age, it is never too late to make changes that will benefit your mental and physical health.
Adding cardiovascular activity to your life is as easy as taking the stairs at work or parking further away from the front door of the mall and supermarket. When you have mastered these activities, consider a walk through your neighborhood or at a local park. Bring a friend to improve accountability and bust boredom. If you are short on time, use your lunch breaks at work and start a walking group – just 20 minutes Monday through Friday will help you make major strides toward better health – heart health, weight management and your brain. You can spice things up by trying a new class at the gym – indoor cycling, Zumba or a combo cardio-resistance class – just get your heart pumping. Mix walking, running, rollerblading and a class or two each week and you will not only reap disease-fighting benefits, but you will ward off stress, power your brain and manage your weight effectively.