Working Out for a Healthy Brain

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

The LA Times published a nice article today summarizing what we know about mental and physical exercise with regards to the benefits that accrue to cognitive health.

Articles of this nature are commonly written with a commercial agenda, touting exaggerated claims that have not been adequately validated through scientific study. I have chosen to highlight this article because it was well written and objective in its presentation. I think it does a good job in separating unproven claims from those with varying degrees of scientific evidence.

We know that physical exercise is generally beneficial to overall health, including cognitive health. We also know that exercising your brain, through challenging new learning, is surely not bad and most probably beneficial. But be aware, many vendors of computerized workouts claim benefits that are yet unproven. Others are accumulating scientific evidence suggesting that their products may improve mental sharpness. It certainly stands to reason that forcing your brain to learn and to establish new synaptic circuitry is probably somehow helpful. You should simply be aware that not every claim you find online is well backed with evidence.

The bottom line: staying active (both mentally and physically), is a good bet in maintaining a high level of health and a good quality of life.
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