Sharon, Exercise is an essential element in healthful aging. Research reveals exercise not only makes us live longer but we live independently and healthier as we age. Everything is positively affected by exercise as we age: memory, heart, blood pressure, blood sugar, immune function, healthy skin, and the healthier functioning of every major organ and system of the body. As you exercise you create endorphins; you exercise the muscles and also send blood and oxygen to your vital organs, especially to your brain. Exercise just doesn’t make your muscles stronger; it slows the aging of your entire body.
Exercise improves long-term memory and brain function. It helps prevent the arterial aging that contributes to aging and Alzheimer’s disease. A study of more than 18,000 nurses over 70 showed the women who walked at least 1.5 hours per week scored higher on tests of general thinking ability, verbal memory, and attention than did women who walked less than 40 minutes per week. A study of more than 2,000 men over 70 showed that regular walking reduced the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The improved oxygen movement to the brain during exercise feeds the brain and causes better memory functioning.