Brain function can diminish as we age. A report released by the Institute of Medicine suggests that maintaining physical activity can help preserve memory and attention as we get older. Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental abilities. They also show a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers believe that the benefits come from increased blood flow and an increase in brain-protecting chemicals. Exercise also seems to counter some of the reduction in brain connections that occur as we age. Doctors are not sure how these processes work or how effective exercise is in preventing mental decline, but they agree that exercise has many positive benefits for seniors and are hopeful that more research will lead to a better understanding of the mind-body connection.