As I have written repeatedly in the blog, exercise is one of the keys to healthy aging as well as healthy living. Here is a super explanation of the impact of aerobic exercise on the cardiovascular system from the book Spark. You can read about it here by Dr. John Ratey, author of A User’s Guide to the Brain.
He says hopefully that when people come to accept that exercise is as important for the brain as it is for the heart they will commit to it.
Regarding the cardiovascular system, he writes, “A strong heart and lungs reduce resting blood pressure. The result is less strain on the vessels in the body and the brain. There are a number of mechanisms at work here.
“First, contracting muscles during exercise releases growth factors …. Aside from their in helping neurons bind and promoting neurogenesis, they trigger a molecular chain reaction that produces endolethial cells,which make up the inner lining of blood vessels and thus are important for building new ones. These inroads expand the vascular network, bringing each area of the brain that much closer to a lifeline and creating redundant circulation routes that protect against future blockages.
“Second, exercise introduces more nitric oxide, a gas that widens the vessels’ passageways to boost blood volume.
“Third, the increased blood flow during moderate to intense activity reduces hardening of the brain arteries.
“Finally, exercise can to some extent counteract vascular damage. Stroke victims and even Alzheimer’s patients who participate in aerobic exercise improve their scores on cognitive tests.Starting when you are young is best, but it’s never too late.”
So, to answer the question, Yes, exercise can help me to live longer and also to have my brain functioning fully in my old age.