Hello, friends! All the school-aged kids in my family are back in school again, and now it’s time for ME again! I get so busy taking care of everybody else in the fam that I forget to take care of myself, especially when the children are home for the summer. But, now they’re happily (HA!) engaged in learning, Jacqueline is enjoying her interior design job at Haverty’s (see her for all of your furniture needs :)), and I can focus on getting strong!
Lifting weights is my FAVE way to workout these days. It’s super important for our bodies to lift weights as we age, especially since the aging process causes us to lose muscle mass, and weight training builds muscle mass. Weight lifting is great for the heart too. It really gets the heart pumping and strengthens the cardiovascular system.
However, something that I thought was a really cool benefit to weight lifting is that it’s great for the brain. Weight lifting= healthy brain?!! It’s not immediately obvious, is it? But it’s absolutely true and I’m going to tell you all about it.
Exercising improves our memory and cognition, and it also helps to prevent dementia as we age. Additionally, strength training has been shown to have a strong impact on brain function and memory, especially working leg muscles. Also, senior citizens who engage in medium to high intensity exercise can slow brain aging by as much as ten years.
All this is possible because exercise promotes brain health by releasing hormones like brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) from the muscles, which encourage the growth of new brain cells. Neurogenesis is what this process is called. The memory center of the brain is very adaptable and capable of growing new cells throughout our entire lives, even into our 90’s, provided we live a healthy lifestyle.
Weight training also increases and improves blood flow to the brain. It reduces damaging plaques in the brain, and alters the way these damaging proteins reside inside the brain, thereby slowing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, it increases production of nerve-protecting compounds, lowers levels of inflammatory cytokines associated with chronic inflammation and obesity, improves development and survival of neurons, and prevents brain shrinkage by preserving both gray and white matter in the frontal, temporal, and parietal cortexes.
Another really super advantage to weight training is that it helps eliminate depression, in many cases more effectively than antidepressants, and purges the body of stress chemicals associated with stress-related depression. Wow, that’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?!!
So that’s what I have to tell you today, wonderful readers. Get out there and work those weights! It can help decrease depression, improve memory and cognition, slows the development of Alzheimer’s, helps prevent dementia, slows brain aging, and can actually increase our brain cells. That makes it worth my while to weight train! Try it, you’ll like it. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!