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What Are Normal Brain Changes?
To understand cognitive and physical brain
changes that lead to cognitive aging and dementia,
first we must understand normal age-related
brain changes. The parietal, frontal, and temporal
cortices all experience significant tissue loss
throughout life. Healthy adults lose approximately
15 percent of their neocortical tissue
between ages thirty and ninety, with disproportionately
higher losses in areas crucial for
executive control (Raz, 2000).
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• Adopting a physically
active lifestyle early
on may be the best
way to prevent brain
• Aging increases the
• (Ratey, 2008)
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In contrast to
exercise is consistently
associated with increased
and greater brain volume.
• Aerobic exercise is
thought to improve brain
health by creating new
brain cells , blood vessels
and by enhancing
neurons. (Ratey, 2008)
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Blood flow increases and the
transport of nutrients to newly
formed cells result in better
brain function and increased
One prospective longitudinal
study found that midlife
physical activity levels
increased more gray matter
volume twenty-one years later,
even in individuals with
cognitive problems, (Rovio et
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• Aerobic exercise not only slowed, but reversed, typical
• Modest amounts of aerobic exercise can protect against
• Walking one mile a day can prevent atrophy.
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• While exercise preserves brain tissue, it also helps you
think better. In a recent study, people who exercised
regularly got better at planning and paying attention.
• Athletic activity helps young exercisers also with
increased ability to handle complex problems and relief
of knowing their brains are protected as they get older.
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• Exercise also has a positive effect on mental health.
• Physical activities have been found to have holistic
benefits such as, social interaction, positive emotional
experiences and sense of achievement (Crone et al., ).
• Very few studies have been done on younger age
groups. Of the few studies that have been conducted,
Ahmadi et al. (2005) It was reported that body building,
swimming and taekwondo control groups had lower
levels of depression than the group who did no physical
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• Exercise gets rid of stress, improves your mood,
increases memory, makes you smarter and able to
• Exercise reconfigures your brain to help you perform at
your highest level.
• Exercise is a free and easy way to fight off the effects of
depression, ADD and memory loss. (Ratey, 2008)
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• As you have read physical activity is beneficial in many
• It increases brain function and mass.
• It fights off depression.
• When you are feeling overwhelmed take a few minutes,
go for a walk do some aerobics. You will be thinking
clearer and become more relaxed and protecting your
brain for the future.
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Guallar E, Podewils L. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano. Annals of Internal
Medicine [serial online]. January 17, 2006:135, W24. Available from:
Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 14, 2012.
(American Psychological Assoc.)
Keith Laws, et al. "Physical Activity And Mental Health In A Student
Population." Journal Of Mental Health 19.6 (2010): 492-499.
Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 July 2012.
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Moghaddam J, Hefzollesan M, Salehian M, Shirmohammadzadeh M.
Effect of Different Exercises on Reducing Male Students
Depression. Annals Of Biological Research [serial online]. June
2012;3(3):1231-1235. Available from: Academic Search Complete,
Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 14, 2012.
(American Psychological Assoc.)
Ratey, J. J., & Hagerman, E. (2008). Spark: The revolutionary new
science of exercise and the brain. New York, NY: Little, Brown.
Spark explains the science of exercise and the biological
relationship between the body, the brain, and the mind.
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Tyson, P, Wilson, K, Crone, D, Brailsford, R, & Laws, K
2010, 'Physical activity and mental health in a student
population', Journal Of Mental Health, 19, 6, pp. 492-
499, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed
14 July 2012.
(Modern Language Assoc.)