Getting the heart pumping isn’t only important for the age bracket of school learning systems. Aerobic exercise–which should involve sweat and a nicely accelerated heartbeat–causes a rush of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Dopamine has been shown to slow metabolism in areas of the brain linked to cognition.
Besides its ability to boost learning system performance, aerobic exercise helps the brain in myriad ways, including preventing brain-related diseases. For older people especially, exercise combats the buildup of plaque, as well as depression and oxidative stress, three other factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, only a small percentage of older people follow the recommended 30 minutes, five days a week minimum guideline for exercise. Between 28 and 34 percent of adults aged 65 to 74 do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity. This percentage grows with adults over 75, with 35 to 44 percent not getting any aerobic exercise.
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