This week marks Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research, and Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) wants to remind Australians of the importance of getting up and being more active for the sake of your brain.
“As one of the most important parts of the human body, we need to ensure we are keeping our brains healthy. Physical activity is proven to be one of the most significant contributors to positive brain health,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.
Despite the benefits, statistics show that over 60% of Australian adults carry out less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day and only one in five children undertake the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity during the day.
“Australians just aren’t exercising enough. Exercise can help to reduce the risk of and alleviate symptoms of a range of chronic conditions. Lack of exercise is one of the main causes of chronic conditions,” says Ms Hobson-Powell.
Exercising the brain with physical activity primarily prevents, or delays, chronic diseases in children and adults. A 2014 UK study estimated that physical inactivity accounted for 21.8 percent of the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Another study even went as far as to say that just one hour of exercise a week can reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half.
Another benefit of being active for those living with a chronic condition is the positive effects on one’s mental health.
“Aerobic exercise has been shown to be effective in treating major depression. Studies show that about 60% of people halve their depression score by exercising and more than 40% stay that way for at least three months,” says Carly Ryan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and ESSA Spokesperson.
Regular exercise has also been proven to improve memory and thinking skills. Exercising increases blood flow which pumps more oxygen to the brain.
“You don’t even have to go too hard, 20 minutes has been proven to facilitate memory function and processing of information,” says Carly.
Tips for Exercising Right for Your Uniqueness
i. If you have any immediate health concerns it is best to speak to your local GP.
ii. If you have lived with a chronic condition or have had major surgery or injuries it’s best to speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
iii. If you have no apparent health concerns, then chat to an Accredited Exercise Scientist who is university trained to help put together the most appropriate exercise program for you to improve your health.
If you do have any concerns about your health, contact your local accredited exercise professional.
Every March, Brain Awareness Week unites the efforts of partner organisations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. To get involved, visit the Australian institute, Brain Foundation, here.