Sound mind and body

Get  fit, and stay sharp at the same time -- because exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the body.

If you get fit now, and stay fit in the years to come, you can expect to do 25 percent better on memory tests by the time you hit 80, according to one new study.

That means simple exercise could hold the key to beating cognitive decline and perhaps even preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Now, this isn't exactly new, as other studies have found a link between good fitness and good brain health. But what makes this new study so unique is that it didn't rely on volunteers to estimate their own fitness levels or guess how much time they spent exercising each week.

No, they actually put everyone on a treadmill to see how far and how fast they could run, walk or jog before running out of breath. It's a way of measuring the oxygen capacity of the lungs -- and a great way to measure overall cardiovascular health and physical fitness.

And those who were the most fit had better memory protection over the course of the seven-year study.

Part of the reason is that good circulation means blood and oxygen reach the brain more easily -- and your brain uses around 20 percent of the blood and 25 percent of the oxygen circulating in your body.

But the benefits almost certainly run deeper when you get fit, with other studies showing beneficial changes in the brain itself in people who get regular exercise.

So if you've been getting regular exercise, great job -- and be sure to keep it up. If you haven't, it's not too late to get fit.

But don't stop there when it comes to brain health.

Memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia can all be caused or worsened by anything from nutritional and hormonal problems to metals exposure -- and in many cases, these problems can be corrected naturally.

I recommend working with a skilled holistic physician. And for complete testing and all-natural brain protection in the Southern California area, make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? Not a problem! I'm also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK for more information or to schedule your own call.

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