Exercise may help keep brain healthy in elderly

Washington, Tue, 23 Oct 2012 ANI

Washington, October 23 (ANI): Older adults who exercise may better protect their brain from age-related changes than those who do not, according to a study.

Researchers found that people over 70 who took regular exercise showed less brain shrinkage over a three-year period than those who did little exercise.

But psychologists and Neuroimaging experts, based at the University of Edinburgh, did not find any benefit to brain health for older people from participation in social or mentally stimulating activities.

Greater brain shrinkage is linked to problems with memory and thinking and the researchers say their findings suggest that exercise is potentially one important pathway to maintaining a healthy brain both in terms of size and reducing damage.

The researchers also examined the brain's white matter - the wiring that transmits messages round the brain. They found that people over 70 who were more physically active had fewer 'damaged' areas - visible as abnormal areas on scanning - in the white matter than those who did little exercise.

Additionally, the researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that the over-70s taking regular exercise had more grey matter - the parts of the brain with nerve cell bodies.

"Our results suggest that to maintain brain health, physical activity may be more beneficial than choosing more sedentary activities," said Dr Alan Gow of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology who led the research.

Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK who fund the Disconnected Mind research project, added, "We already know that exercise is important in reducing our risk of some illnesses that come with ageing, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. This research reemphasises that it really is never too late to benefit from exercise, so whether it's a brisk walk to the shops, gardening or competing in a fun run it is crucial that, those of us who can, get active as we grow older." (ANI)



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