Home' Active Retirees : Active Retirees Jun Jul 2017 Contents lobe blood flow when they started
volunteering at a local primary
school. This correlates with
worldwide studies showing that
meaningful social relationships
and a rich social life halve the risk
of developing dementia.
The third key factor in halving
dementia risk is physical exercise.
We have long known that exercise
is good for the heart but it wasn’t
until the 1990s that scientists at
the Salk Institute for Biological
Studies in California discovered
that exercise not only builds
muscle it builds brain matter.
Exercise stimulates the
production of a protein called
brain-derived neurotrophic factor
(BDNF), which acts like a fertiliser
for neurons. BDNF promotes the
formation of new brain cells and
new connections between existing
brain cells. BDNF is particularly
active in areas of the brain linked
to learning, memory and complex
thinking. The more you exercise,
the more BDNF you produce and
the better your cognition and
memory. A study published in 2006
reported that those over the age of
60 who engaged in brisk walking for
three hours a week over a six-month
period increased both grey matter
and white matter and enlarged
their overall brain volume.
The brain operates at its best in
the first hour after we engage in
any form of physical activity. Just
20 minutes on a treadmill improves
language learning, creative thinking
and problem solving. If you are
stuck on a problem, get moving for
20 minutes and you are more likely
to come up with the solution.
Before you arrive at your origami
lesson, take a brisk walk and
you’ll learn more easily. Exercise
also stimulates the release of
feel-good chemicals: endorphins,
serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin
and noradrenalin. These
neurotransmitters improve mood
and positivity. In fact, one hour
of exercise a day has an anti-
depressant effect equivalent to that
of some medications.
Physical exercise refers to
endurance training (aerobic
activities such as walking, running,
cycling, swimming, dancing and
vigorous housework) and strength
training (lifting weights or carrying
heavy shopping bags up a hill).
Both types of exercise improve
cognition and affect the brain in
complementary ways so ideally we
need to engage in both. But the best
exercise is ultimately whatever you
enjoy doing and will continue to do
on a regular basis.
It’s the little things
Small things can make a big
difference because they add up over
time and increase our confidence
to continue stretching ourselves.
Start on one new activity or learn
one new thing today – whatever
inspires or interests you. The person
who moves mountains begins by
carrying small stones. Dementia
is a mountain but we all have the
capacity to carry small stones. ••
Dr Helena Popovic visits Probus
clubs around Australia to talk
about brain health. Would you
like her to visit your club? Visit
24 | www.probussouthpacific.org
If you are stuck on a
problem, get moving
for 20 minutes and you
are more likely to come
up with the solution.
WHO IS HELENA?
Dr Helena Popovic is a medical
doctor, leading authority on
how to improve brain function,
international speaker and best-
selling author. She cares for her
father who has had dementia for
over 10 years. Everything she
speaks and writes about, she
practises with her father and
he accompanies her to all her
Probus talks. She has written two
books on dementia: In Search of
My Father: Dementia is No Match
for a Daughter’s Determination
Jess was just 16 years old when she was diagnosed with the genetic heart disease
hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. She’s been fighting for survival ever since.
Heart disease had already claimed the life of her father, and now, as a mother herself,
survival means even more.
Heart disease is the number-one killer of women in Australia. Every 26 minutes, heart
disease claims the life of an Australian, leaving behind heartbroken children, wives,
husbands, parents, siblings and friends.
By including a gift in your Will to the Heart Foundation, you will help fund vital research
that will help us beat heart disease, and keep more loving families together for longer.
Contact us to receive your Free
DVD and guide to gifts in Wills.
1300 55 02 82
A gift in your Will can help prevent Australians
like Jess from being taken too soon
“I lost my Dad, I don’t want
my daughter to lose me”
Jess, age 29
19/08/2016 4:02 pm
10/05/2017 10:30 AM
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