The truth about exercise

At the New Year we’re always looking for good resolutions.  How about a book that helps you and your family?  An exciting new book is out about exercise, by the noted vertigo expert and famed neurologist, Dr. Robert Baloh.  He has researched vertigo for over 50 years and saw thousands of patients in his practice at UCLA.  His latest scholarly book is Exercise and the Brain: Why Physical Exercise is Essential to Peak Cognitive Health.

How much exercise do we all need?  You may have heard that sitting all day is bad for your health, and that exercising for short periods a few days a week helps.  Is 10,000 steps what we should aim for each day, or is another strategy just as good?  Baloh  reviews the exercise habits of current hunter-gatherer societies, similar to the way of life of our ancestors, and shows that we need to keep in motion to maintain the health of our brains.  He backs this up with key research findings about the brain and exercise.  It’s not just bouts of brisk exercise that are important, but also low level moving about throughout the day.  Health improvements are seen even by mildly increasing daily movement in the couch-potato crowd. 

Most of us fear dementia, which may seem unavoidable with age, but he shows us that the function of the brain is greatly affected by how much we move.  Diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease can be improved by physical activity.  Balance and thinking abilities are both strongest in those who are active.  If you want to keep your brain alive and functioning as well as possible, live like our ancestors did and start moving.  As we discussed in the previous post, exercise is usually beneficial in people with vertigo, even though it can sometimes make the vertigo seem more intense at first.  Over time, it reduces vertigo. 

The media suggests that doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku is enough to keep your brain working, but “mental exercise” is not nearly as important for your brain and balance as physical exercise.  Baloh shows that daily walks may be your best insurance against physical decline in both brain and body.  If you can exercise enough to become physically fit, you will be doing even more to improve brain health.  For many years I have recommended simple ways to increase movement during the day to my patients. For example, while watching TV, get up and walk around the house through every commercial.  Stand up, stretch and walk around the hall in the office once or twice an hour while at work.  Every movement helps.

We wish you a more active, vertigo-free 2023!

Published by Vertigone

I translate the medical world of dizziness for non-medical people

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