Brain Exercise – what type is best?

As you know if you have spent any time with the Blood Type Diet – every body is different.  Not only do different Blood Types need different foods, but Dr. D. recommends different types of exercise for the different Types.

Once I turned 60, I became interested in brain function, and I hope to maximize it as I get older.  Dr. D. wrote a book about aging which I have found helpful.  Most of what I read is about food and supplements.  However I recently read an article from Brainstorm that deals with how different types of exercise affect the brain in different ways.

I got on Brainstorm’s mailing list several years ago when I photographed one of their seminars.  This company works with senior adults and senior living facilities to “build a better brain.”

Here are excerpts from their article on brain exercise.  At the end is a link to their source if you are intrigued and want to read more.

A new animal study is the first to compare the brain benefits of different types of exercise: running, weight training and high-intensity interval training.  My guess would have been that interval training would have bulked up the brain the most.  But the surprising results suggest that going hard may not be the best option for long-term brain health.

For this study researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland injected rats with a substance that marks new brain cells and then set groups of them to an array of different workouts, with one group remaining sedentary to serve as controls.

Some of the animals were given running wheels in their cages, allowing them to run at will. Most jogged moderately every day for several miles, although individual mileage varied.

Others began resistance training, which for rats involves climbing a wall with tiny weights attached to their tails.

Still others took up the rodent equivalent of high-intensity interval training. The animals were placed on little treadmills and required to sprint at a very strenuous pace for three minutes, followed by two minutes of slow skittering.  The sequence was repeated twice more, for a total of 15 minutes.

After seven weeks, the researchers microscopically examined brain tissue from the hippocampus of each rat and found very different levels of neurogenesis, depending on how each animal had exercised.

Those rats that had jogged on wheels showed robust levels of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue teemed with new neurons, far more than in the brains of the sedentary animals. The greater the distance that a runner had covered during the experiment, the more new cells its brain now contained.

There were far fewer new neurons in the brains of the animals that had completed high-intensity interval training. They showed somewhat higher amounts than in the sedentary animals but far less than in the distance runners.

And the weight-training rats, although they were much stronger at the end of the experiment than they had been at the start, showed no discernible augmentation of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue looked just like that of the animals that had not exercised at all.

These results do not mean that only running and similar moderate endurance workouts strengthen the brain.  Those activities do seem to prompt the most neurogenesis in the hippocampus. But weight training and high-intensity intervals probably lead to different types of changes elsewhere in the brain.

So if you currently weight train or exclusively work out with intense intervals, continue. But perhaps also thread in an occasional run or bike ride for the sake of your hippocampal health.

Because of Dr. D’s recommendations for Type O, I tend to concentrate on running, biking, and aerobic equipment at the fitness center.  In addition I lift weights several times a week for my bone health.  The only time I do interval training is when I work out with DD.  I am pleased that the Type of exercise that is good for me as a Type O is also good for my brain.

No matter what your age – but especially if you are over 60 – get up and get moving for your muscles, your joints, your heart, and now – even for your brain.

Read the full article here:

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