Women and Exercise

We know that exercise can help us feel young and stay healthy, but you it can help us mentally as well.  And scientists now say that's especially true for older women.   Researchers say no matter how late in life you start exercising, fitness training will produce benefits in mental function. Researchers at the University of Illinois analyzed eighteen different studies on exercise and brain function conducted over thirty-five years, and found that seniors gained more from exercise than younger adults.  They said that since older people have gone further down the hill, they have much more of the hill that they can climb back up.  And that's why they show the greatest benefit.  Researchers explained in the March issue of "Psychological Science" that the reason for that is that exercise benefits the brain in many ways.  One such way is by increasing blood flow.  Another is that it increases the production of various neuro-chemicals that protect nerve cells, and aid in the creation of new nerve cells.  They also found that women gained more in mental performance from exercise, than men did. The reason could lie in a sex hormone called estrogen that affects certain chemicals in the brain. Scientists say the changes that estrogen produces, which are neuro-chemical changes, are similar to the changes that fitness produces. Overall women have more estrogen than men. So researchers think both estrogen and exercise combine to give women an extra boost to their brain. The study also found that those who had combined aerobics with strength training or weight lifting had even more benefit than those who only did aerobic training.  For more information on women and fitness, log onto www.sciencentral.com/news.