Research indicates that it is never too late to enjoy the health benefits of moderate aerobic exercise. Brisk walking for 30 to 50 minutes 3 or 4 times each week for 3 months improved blood flow to the brain as much as 15% in a study of women.
At the start of the research, the scientists made use of Doppler ultrasonography to determine blood flow in the internal carotid arteries, which are found in the neck and provide the brain with important glucose and oxygen-rich blood. After examining each individual’s physical health and VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake), which is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can make use of while exercising, the researchers customized training programs for each woman based on her fitness level.
Training began at a base pace of 50 to 60% of the individuals’ VO2 max for half an hour per session, 3 times a week. By the 3rd month, the researchers had increased the training sessions to 50 minutes each, 4 times each week, and added 2 more training sessions at 70 to 80% of their VO2 max for half an hour.
At the end of the study, the researchers measured blood flow in the carotid arteries once more and observed the increase of cerebral blood flow averaged 11% and 15% in the right and left internal carotid arteries, respectively. Their VO2 max increased about 13%, their heart rates decreased roughly 5%, and blood pressure dropped by an average of 4%.
A healthy, steady blood flow to the brain accomplishes 2 things. To begin with, the blood brings vitally healthy glucose, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. Secondly, the blood flushes brain metabolic wastes like amyloid-beta protein released in to the blood vessels of the brain. Amyloid-beta protein has been suggested as a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.