Whether you are a farmer, gamekeeper, horse rider, dog walker or are involved in any one of the myriad of other professions or activities that involve the outdoors, the one thing you all have in common is ‘exercise’. But it’s not just the physical activity that has a positive effect on your well-being. New research is finding that levels of fitness also have a profound long-term influence on a wide range of cognitive abilities which in turn, can shape your IQ. It has been found that exercise cultivates the growth of new neurons in the brain. In one report, previously sedentary adults who performed an aerobic fitness plan for six months were able to boost the performance of their cognitive drills that require what is known as ‘executive control’. This is the concentration that helps you to switch between different tasks without making mistakes! A recent 2010 study with 4000 over 55 year olds found that those who rarely took part in physical activity were more than twice as likely to suffer from cognitive impairment than those who engaged in exercise such as gardening, swimming or cycling a few times a week. Another study followed 1500 people for 20 years, finding that those exercising twice a week during middle age were less likely to develop dementia by the time they reached their 70’s. As the brain relies on a steady supply of nutrients and oxygen through an intricate network of blood vessels, physical activity encourages the construction of new supply lines and exercise can contribute to ensuring a lasting and more permanent change. It is well documented that exercise helps to cut the risk of developing diabetes and obesity but maintaining ones cognitive performance into old age is now being seen as having serious implications with the reduction in the levels of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Whatever your age, even gentle activities such as taking a walk a few times a week can work wonders for your brain. So, the message to all you Game & Country lovers, keep enjoying the great outdoors and stay active!
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