Inactivity, your brain and your overall health; the NY Times reports.

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Inactivity, your brain and your overall health; the NY Times reports.

Many of us have heard that a sedentary lifestyle is not good for us physically, and may lead to a shorter life span. Another part of the puzzle seems to be that the brain may actually cause physiologic changes to the heart and the vascular system, which may be part of the reason why those of us who are sedentary have many of the heart and circulatory problem that they develop. So much for cholesterol meds, perhaps this idea will finally be put away as this new research seems to indicate that while exercise is important and necessary, a lack of exercise has neurological as well as physiological ramifications.

Weight is of course also a concern, and having too much weight on a persons frame will increase the likelihood that we develop damaged joints (many of us do not have ideal body mechanics to begin with so loading it with more weight will most certainly damage hips, knees and feet more quickly). Many companies are already recognizing the benefit if a more fit employee, regardless of the reasons fitness is good for them; lower medical bills.

The bottom line is this: Those who are more active and get regular exercise are less likely to have heart and circulatory problems. Read the NY times article here

How Inactivity Changes the Brain

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

A number of studies have shown that exercise can remodel the brain by prompting the creation of new brain cells and inducing other changes. Now it appears that inactivity, too, can remodel the brain, according to a notable new report.

The study, which was conducted in rats but likely has implications for people too, the researchers say, found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well. The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.

Until about 20 years ago, most scientists believed that the brain’s structure was fixed by adulthood, that you couldn’t create new brain cells, alter the shape of those that existed or in any other way change your mind physically after adolescence.

But in the years since, neurological studies have established that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. Exercise appears to be particularly adept at remodeling the brain, studies showed.

But little has been known about whether inactivity likewise alters the structure of the brain and, if so, what the consequences might be.

So for a study recently published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine and other institutions gathered a dozen rats. They settled half of them in cages with running wheels and let the animals run at will. Rats like running, and these animals were soon covering about three miles a day on their wheels.

The other rats were housed in cages without wheels and remained sedentary.

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