When we think about what might be happening in our body if we stop exercising, we concern ourselves with our muscle size decreasing, or our stamina taking a hit, and maybe gaining weight, but do we ever consider what might be happening in our brain? By the way, isn’t it strange to be using your brain to think about your brain? I digress… Anyway, this article is a supplement to my other articles about the effects of not getting enough sleep in The Number One Rule for Better Weight Loss , and what happens to your metabolism in Eat More, Gain Less. Wait, What? . A recent study by the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland, published in Frontiers online magazine (link below) sheds light on how suddenly halting exercise impacts your brain – and the results are concerning to say the least. It turns out, just resting from exercise for as little as 10 days will cause our brains to slow blood flow to about 8 specific areas that are crucial to memory retention.
The aim was to “measure the effects of 10 days of detraining on resting cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in gray matter and the hippocampus in healthy and physically fit older adults.” according to the article in the “Aging Neuroscience” category.
Basically, they wanted to see what happens to blood flow in the brain when a peak performing athlete over the age of 50 suddenly becomes sedentary. Turns out, even if you’re at the top of your physical game, and you cease exercising for just 10 days, it will have significant negative effects on your brain, which includes decreased memory function. So, use your brain to think about your brain needing exercise for motivation. Sorry, I just had to go there!
Hippocampal and Cerebral Blood Flow after Exercise Cessation in Master Athletes – Frontiers in Neuroscience