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How does exercise help the brain?

Information shows that memory decline actually starts at age 25 and continues throughout our life. Since there are no medicine or medical treatment to reverse mental decline, what can we do to maintain our memory?

The answer is simple and based on consistent information from medical research: Get moving. Exercise stimulates the growth of cells in regions of the brain involved with memory as well as other areas. In part this is because of improved blood flow and oxygen as well as other brain-stimulating chemicals. "The inverse association between fitness and cognitive impairment provides an additional impetus for health care providers to promote physical activity," wrote lead author Jan Müller, Ph.D., in the Mayo Clinic study.

The bottom line is: If you're not exercising regularly, start now. Speak with your doctor to plan a physical activity schedule that is best suited for your health needs and interests. Peter Rabins, M.D., founding director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says. "Even as little as 30 minutes of moderate levels of exercise a day can make a difference in overall brain health."

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