While we enjoy the spectacle of the Olympic Games, we should remember that if we engage in many of the featured sports we can help ward off dementia.
Many of us are enjoying the spectacle of world-class athletes competing at the top of their game at the London Summer Olympics. But did you know that engaging in many of the sports featured at the Summer Games can offer us potential protection from dementia and mild cognitive impairment?
Get your heart pumping
Now we’re not suggesting that everyone should begin an Olympic training regimen in ping pong or badminton. But we are suggesting that any activity that gets the heart pumping for a prolonged period can actually help our brains.
Large study proves cognitive benefits
In September of 2011, researchers at Mayo Clinic published a report of their retrospective study of scientific literature on the subject of exercise and cognition. They looked at animal studies as well as observational (human) studies in over 1,600 papers.
They used, as their measure of exercise, enough aerobic physical activity to raise the heart rate and increase the body’s need for oxygen. This included anything from walking and gym workouts to activities at home such as shovelling snow or raking leaves.
Their conclusion was that “you can make a very compelling argument for exercise as a disease-modifying strategy to prevent dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and for favorably modifying these processes once they have developed.”
Pick up a racket—and play!
Now that you’ve been inspired by all the Olympic action, and now that you know just how healthy a little action might be for your own grey matter, you might want to consider picking up a racket—or a paddle, or a ball—yourself!
Here are a few of the many Olympic events that offer plenty of opportunity for recreational athletes to get their heart pumping.