Study shows exercise may help protect brain health in old age
A study of nearly 700 people aged 70 by The University of Edinburgh shows that regular exercise can help delay shrinkage of the brain.
The participants of the study were asked a series of questions about their health and lifestyle and were then taken for an MRI scan of the brain.
The results showed that the more physically active the members of the group were, the less brain shrinkage they showed, over a period of three years.
The more active members also showed less damaged areas of white matter (the wiring that transmits messages around the brain) and in their grey matter, the part of the brain with nerve cell bodies.
However, it was shown that mental stimulation such as socialising, reading a book or doing a crossword made no difference to the degradation of the brain.
Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK said: “This research is exciting as it provides vital clues as to what impacts the way our brain ages and how we could tackle mental decline.”
“If we can establish definitively that exercise provides protection against mental decline, it could open the door to exercise programmes tailored to the needs of people as they age”, he added.
Doctor Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “While we can’t say that exercise is the casual factor in this study, we do know that exercise in middle age can lower the risk of dementia in later life.”