BEAUTY with brains may still be an unrealistic combination but exercise and brains are definitely connected. A new research conducted at the University of Hamburg, Germany and published in the Health Psychology comes as a good news for middle aged men and women who haven’t yet bothered about their physical fitness. The study suggests that if they start exercise now, they can still save their brains from becoming totally exhausted in their senior years.
As many as 68 inactive men and women aged between 40 and 56 were divided into two categories: the cycling group and the stretching group. In the meantime, the study also observed 18 non-active people who were to be compared with the studied group.
Before the assignment, a few tests were conducted including heart fitness test, measurement of memory and other thinking skills. The studied group did these physical exercises for two hours weekly for six months.
The hypothesis was that in late adulthood, a region of the brain involved in memory, the hippocampus, shrinks. While the cycling group’s heart fitness was improved by 15%, there were not many changes on this count among the stretching and inactive groups. But when a memory test of learning a list of items was conducted, both the cycling and the stretching groups did better than the inactive group. The increase in this test score was linked with an increase in fitness. Moreover, it turned out that the cycling group also did better in the recognition test of retaining learned material.
Also, there was a surprise finding. Both the groups were given a paper and pencil test in which they had to find and mark certain letters quickly. The stretching group actually improved more in a test of attention than did the cycling group.
Quite a few studies previously have also suggested a clear connection between exercising and brain power. This should particularly interest people in the IT industry as they constantly lose out on the exercising front due to work pressures. Ironically, this lack of physical exercise affects their brain power in the long run as they struggle to get to the top ladder of hierarchy in their company.
Stretching is something that Team ALW has been practicing right in the office premises through Office Yoga. We have pictures of Office Yoga exercises pinned in each of the employee areas so that people may find time during the entire day for some stretching. And now with this study, we are all the more encouraged to motivate our team to continue doing so.
Cycling is also something that we have been contemplating to encourage our team with. It is an exercise that can actually improve our heart’s fitness. Heart is an important health parameter and is related to the overall fitness of a person. What is interesting is that the targeted group was exercising and cycling only for two hours per week. Imagine if an engineer is able to take out only half an hour every day for cycling or exercising. It can have a wonderful impact on his brain power and overall fitness.