In June 2001, ABC News reported that school children spend 4.8 hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games.
The impact of computers, video games, school funding cuts, and public apathy have combined to leave Illinois as the only state that still requires daily physical education in first through 12th grades. This is a far cry from the 1960s, when President John F. Kennedy made physical fitness a priority for Americans of all ages.
These sedentary tendencies respresent a real health crisis. And, not just for couch-potatoes. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when blood circulation slows, allowing clots to form and then, eventually, break free, causing death. DVT has been nicknamed “economy class syndrome,” because airplane passengers who sit throughout a long flight in the close quarters of economy class have become victims of DVT.
Walking Benefits Brains
Walking is especially good for your brain, because it increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain. Walking is not strenuous, so your leg muscles don't take up extraoxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why walking can "clear your head" and help you to think better.
Movement and exercise increase breathing and heart rate so that more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and waste removal. Studies show that in response to exercise, cerebral blood vessels can grow, even in middle-aged sedentary animals.
Wake Up Your Brain in the Morning Exercise
In the morning, while you're still in bed, slowly begin to move your toes – any way that feels good. Wriggle, scrunch, and stretch. Move all your toes up and down several times, or work just your big toes. Wiggling your toes activates nerves that stimulate your brain and internal organs.
Do this exercise first thing each morning or after sitting for an extended period of time. It will help you to wake-up and become alert more quickly. Your whole body may feel pleasantly energized. Most important, your first steps – and those throughout the day – will be safer ones. (Falls are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury among people over 65 years old.)
Physical Exercise Protects Your Brain as it Ages - Statistics
Physical exercise has a protective effect on the brain and its mental processes, and may even help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Based on exercise and health data from nearly 5,000 men and women over 65 years of age, those who exercised were less likely to lose their mental abilities or develop dementia, including Alzheimer's.
Furthermore, the five-year study at the Laval University in Sainte-Foy, Quebec suggests that the more a person exercises the greater the protective benefits for the brain, particularly in women.
Inactive individuals were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's, compared to those with the highest levels of activity (exercised vigorously at least three times a week). But even light or moderate exercisers cut their risk significantly for Alzheimer's and mental decline.