A relationship between the body and mind has long been theorized. As far back as the 1st century, Roman poet Juvenal suggested people should pray for “mens sana in corpore sano” (a sound mind in a sound body) above power and wealth.
Today, of course, a physiological connection between physical exercise and improved memory isn’t just assumed; it’s been well-documented scientifically.
“Researchers generally agree that one of the most important things you can do to improve memory and protect yourself from memory loss is to make physical exercise a part of your life,” said physical therapist Mike Danford, doctor of physical therapy at Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinics. “Movement and exercise are powerful tools in preventing disease and dysfunction while improving quality of life, and this is just another great example of this power.”
A 2016 study by the National Institute on Aging serves as strong research connecting the body and the mind. It showed that when we exercise, muscles release a protein (cathepsin B) that appears to generate new cells and improved connections in the hippocampus — a part of the brain that controls memory.
This is just the latest in an extensive history of scientific research that connects physical exercise with such mental benefits as improved memory, a delay in the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and improved mental function for those dealing with the natural effects of aging.
One study by the Mayo Clinic found that adults who regularly engage in moderate aerobic exercise five to six times a week can reduce their risk of mild cognitive impairments (i.e., memory and comprehension losses) by up to 32 percent thanks to increased blood flow to the brain.
“Along with these direct effects of physical exercise, being active also does wonders for improving mood, helping you sleep and reducing stress and anxiety,” Danford said. “Such issues are directly connected to cognitive impairment, either as a cause or a contributor.
“And of course,” Danford added, “exercise offers a seemingly endless number of physical benefits that contribute toward optimal health and quality of life.”
A physical therapist is specifically trained to assess and treat people who are dealing with pain, injury, physical deficiencies and other issues that make it difficult for them to move or exercise regularly. If a physical roadblock is keeping you from achieving both a sound body and mind, the physical therapy team at Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinics can help put you on the path toward improved health and happiness.