Physical exercise stimulates the release of dopamine, the feel better brain chemical that is linked with the brain’s reward and pain-pleasure systems. Levels of this critical neurotransmitter tend to decrease with age so physical exercise becomes even more vital. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural morphine. Apathy is sometimes seen in the elderly, especially when they are facing the need to move into a retirement community or into an assisted living center. Regular physical exercise can help to combat apathy through the release of both dopamine and endorphins. Exercise can help protect your brain cells against stress, improve your mood, age-proof your brain against mental decline, and decrease your risk for heart disease, vascular disease, and diabetes. And when you reach your optimum weight-range, exercise can help you maintain it, as well. Jennie Brand-Miller pointed out in The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes that there are really only two requirements when it comes to exercise: one is that you do it; the other is that you continue to do it.
(For more information see “Age-Proofing Your Brain” by Taylor and Briggs.)