Partial to a large gap in between exercise regimes? It may be more detrimental to your health than you think.
While your body may not feel much else other than guilt for deciding to skip the gym in favour of a Netflix binge, turns out scientists have discovered that taking just 10 days off from exercising – whether that be running, swimming, cycling, Zumba, or whatever else you keep yourself active with – can have a big effect on the brain.
In a study published in Frontiers of Ageing Neuroscience, researchers observed a group of physically fit adults aged 50 to 80 before and after they took a 10-day break from their fitness routines.
They found that just 10 days away from the gym actually decreased the flow of blood to their brains, with one of the most affected areas being the hippocampus – responsible for learning and memory.
After examining the group’s MRIs, lead author Dr Jerome Carson Smith explained:
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.
But thankfully it’s not all terrible news:
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.
Essentially, those who take long breaks from exercise experience a decrease of blood flow to important parts of the brain. And, as Dr Smith explained, those parts of the brain are critical to keeping your memory in top shape.
If you want to keep your brain and memory healthy, time off is fine, but keep your breaks to a minimum of a few days.