Exercise for Brain Power and Better Quality of Life - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Exercise for Brain Power and Better Quality of Life

Dr. John Culberson, in Geriatrics and Family Medicine at Texas Tech (Source: KCBD Video) Dr. John Culberson, in Geriatrics and Family Medicine at Texas Tech (Source: KCBD Video)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

We know exercise is good for the heart muscle, but more and more evidence is showing it may be even better for the brain in fighting age related memory loss.

Dr. John Culberson, in Geriatrics and Family Medicine at Texas Tech, says don't be discouraged if you haven't been exercising all your life. He says it's never too late to start, because all you can do is improve!

He says, "It's not too late to start when you've been very, very sick in the hospital for 2 months and can't even stand up, because you've got the most to gain. And you can actually make gains quicker because you're starting from a very low level."

Dr. Culberson says many people get confused and think they need to sweat and get their heart rate up to get the best benefit from exercise.  But, he explains the biggest benefit is building strength and muscle mass because strong legs and a strong back will allow us to stay functional as we age, preventing falls and enjoying a better quality of life.

Dr. Culberson suggests that just being active around the house and walking around the living room 3 times an hour can be really be good exercise.

He reminds us, "You don't have to be training for the Olympic games to be exercising. Recent studies have shown that more is not always better and actually walking for 50 minutes a day provides the maximum benefit aerobically."

Especially for older patients or those who have not exercised for some time, Dr. Culberson says two words are important to remember: Stress and Rest.  He says the best exercise program comes when you develop a pattern of stress (exercise) and rest (recover). And, he says if you're just starting a program, expect to need more rest than stress.

Bottom line, Dr. Culberson says "Start out slow and go slow but continue day after day with rest when you need it. Then, over weeks, months and years, you'll notice a big difference in your fitness as you age."

One other tip, he says make an effort to stand up and sit down 10 times from a chair because that can be great weight bearing exercise. Or, he suggests lifting a book or a can of soup over your head to help build muscle mass in the shoulders and arms.

But remember, the legs count the most.

The muscles there are so big that he says we need to invest in that weight bearing exercise to keep our legs and back strong.

So what about that brain power?

Dr. Culberson says it's something we will hear more about as more research proves the same thing… that weight bearing exercise is a powerful stimulator for the brain, that the more we invest in exercise, the more the brain returns the favor by fighting memory loss.

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