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Senior Information Specialist, West Central Region
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Lynda Johnson M.S., R.D., 660-584-3658
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -A mounting body of research shows that regular, short stints of moderate exercise can improve brain function and lower risk for many chronic diseases, said a University of Missouri extension nutrition and health education specialist.
"Incorporating 10-minute bouts of exercise may be a way to begin making physical activity part of your lifestyle, thus preserving mind and body," said Lynda Johnson.
Researchers conducting the Conselice Study of Brain Aging at University Hospital in Bologna, Italy, assessed cognitive function of 749 adults and found regular, moderate exercise substantially lowered risk for vascular dementia. They determined that routine activities such as climbing stairs, walking and gardening provided brain benefits similar to more rigorous physical activities. The researchers suggest this is because exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, which may have a protective effect by reducing levels of cortisol and other stress hormones generally considered toxic to the brain.
An article in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association cited studies conducted at Harvard University and Brigham Women's Hospital indicating that moderate, regular exercise improved heart health even without weight loss.
In 2007 the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine updated physical activity recommendations for adults of all ages to improve health and maintain functional fitness, independence and quality of life. The basic guidelines suggest moderate-intensity aerobic activities for 30 minutes a day, five days per week and strength training twice a week, along with stretching and balance exercises.
If you haven't been exercising, these recommendations may seem overwhelming. Johnson has tips for getting into the habit of exercising 10 minutes at a time:
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