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Strengthen your mind by working your body

April 12, 2013

Having a healthy mind is often tied with wellness in other areas, whether it is your mood or physical well being. Now, new research out of the University of Granada suggests the opposite may be true. Scientists found that people who regularly exercise enjoyed better cognitive function in a number of different ways, from an increased attention span to an improved perception of time. So if you're looking for a mental boost, maybe the answer is simply going for a bike ride.

The findings were published in an article in the journal PLOS One and based on a study of more than two dozen adults - half of which exercised regularly while the other led a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Researchers noticed that the subjects who were more active enjoyed the greatest benefits when it came to a longer attention span. The team also found they had improved function in their autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls mechanisms such as heart rate, breathing and digestion. 

Casado's findings are not the first to suggest a correlation between physical and mental wellness, so it's no surprise that an active life is such an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. In fact, previous research has found that any kind of physical activity, be it walking, jogging or playing pickleball, can substantially lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, USA Today reports.

That study was performed by scientists at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who are working on the Memory and Aging Project. Their research has revealed a number of interesting results, but perhaps most importantly they found people who are in the bottom 10 percent of physical activity levels are about three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's.