Parents often remind their children to “go outside, get some fresh air and play”. This advice is always good to keep kids from sitting in front of a TV or playing video games when they could be doing more exciting things. New research says that making children exercise not only helps kids stay active, but protects them from potential memory loss as they grow older.
“This is an animal study, but it indicates that physical activity at a young age is very important – not just for development, but for the whole lifelong trajectory of cognitive development during ageing,” says Martin Wojtowicz of the University of Toronto, Canada. “In humans, it may compensate for and delay the appearance of Alzheimer’s symptoms, possibly to the point of preventing them.”
The study was done by splitting 80 rats into two equal groups. One group had exercise wheels in their cages, the others did not. This lasted for 6 weeks. Around four months later – when the rats had reached middle age – the team taught all the rats to associate an electric shock with being in a specific box. When placed in the box, they froze with fear.
Two weeks later, the team tested the rats in three scenarios: exactly the same box in the same room, the same box with the room arranged and lit differently, and a completely different box in a different room.
The rats without access to a running wheel when they were young, now froze the same proportion of times in each of these situations. But those that had been able to run in their youth froze 40 to 50 per cent less in both altered box settings. This means the active rats had a better memory.
Exercise helps us on so many different levels. It’s a great way to fend off being overweight, avoiding heart issues, soothes the mind and provides you with the ability to enjoy the outdoors.
If you have grandchildren, get out there and play with them. Run around and exercise with you can as this will benefit both of you while having fun at the same time!