Real Possibilities

October 9-15, 2017

The Brain-Body Connection


By Nan Selz


On July 15, 2016, the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) issued a report on physical activity and brain health for people as they age. The GCBH is an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars and policy experts from around the world working on people’s ability to think and reason as they age.


Their goal is to provide trusted information on how to maintain and improve cognitive function related to memory, judgment and perception. The GCBH provides clear and dependable recommendations on how to lead a brain-healthy lifestyle. The information is based on scientific evidence in consultation with scientists, doctors, scholars and policy experts from around the world.


While there is not consensus on what types of exercises are best for brain health, research indicates that people who are less active can improve their brain health by becoming more active. Therefore, even without consensus on optimal types of exercise, the report strongly recommends that people should start examining the type, frequency, duration and intensity of their current exercise routine and consider how they could enhance it.


The report concurred with current public health recommendations that individuals should at a minimum engage in:

150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly

Two or more days of moderate-intensity muscle strengthening activity weekly, and

A physically active lifestyle throughout each day.


The first bullet point refers to purposeful exercise requiring moderate to vigorous exertion. Examples of aerobic activity might be walking briskly, cycling, jogging, running or swimming laps so as to increase the heart rate. The second bullet point includes strength or resistance training such as free weights, squats or lunges.


The third point, an active lifestyle, incorporates movement in daily activities such as walking instead of driving, taking stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from your destination or engaging in such activities as gardening, dancing or yoga.


This report took into account the breadth of scientific evidence on the impact of physical activity on brain health, including animal studies, epidemiological studies, and randomized controlled trials, while recognizing there are knowledge gaps. The consensus statements and recommendations are based on the current state of science when the report was released. The GCBH will revisit these recommendations periodically and provide updates as appropriate.


To view the complete report, go to



  • Nan Selz
    Nan Selz