Anyone can do it

Most of us think about movement, exercise and fitness in terms of making our bodies healthier. But research also confirms that physical activity – not to mention regular workouts — can grow your brain and have a dramatic impact on improving your mind and memory.

It is never too late to start exercising, but you don’t have to run marathons to get the brain benefits of exercise. Go for a walk, go for a hike, swimming, some light resistance training, yoga or pilates, you name it. 

Take the case of Olga Kotelko, who even at 93 was a successful track-and-field athlete. She holds more than 30 world records in various track and field sports. She is a proud owner of 750 gold and hundreds of other medals. Some of her records include the oldest female indoor jumper, sprinter, and long jumper as well as the holder of the most medals in senior competitions.

When researchers at the University of Illinois studied her brain, it looked very different from those of other 90-somethings. Olga’s white matter — the cells that transmit messages from one part of the brain to another — showed fewer abnormalities. And her hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, was larger. Her brain seemed much younger than her age!

I hope that Olga’s story will inspire and empower you to take action and start, with small steps, to become more active and enjoy whatever type of physical activity you choose.

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