Ever wondered what actually happens to you when you decide you can't be bothered to go to the gym for a few days? Apart from my belly rearing its ugly head again, it doesn't feel like too much happens to me.
But, it turns out that having a 10-day break from exercise–whether that be running, swimming, cycling, Zumba, or hula hooping–can actually have a pretty massive effect on your brain.
Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health said that one of the areas most affected is the hippocampus, which is the bit of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
The team examined cerebral blood flow in healthy, physically fit older adults aged 50 to 80 years before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise using MRI brain imaging.
Lead author of the study published in the journal Frontiers of Ageing Neuroscience, Dr. Jerome Carson Smith said: "We know that the hippocampus plays an important role in learning and memory and is one of the first brain regions to shrink in people with Alzheimer's disease."
So, it is significant that people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in brain blood flow in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health.
"We did not find any evidence that cognitive abilities worsened after stopping exercising for just 10 days. But the take home message is simple–if you do stop exercising for 10 days, just as you will quickly lose your cardiovascular fitness, you will also experience a decrease in blood brain flow."
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