Exercise May Keep Your Brain From Shrinking!

Sign me up! EXERCISE. I love the endorphins, calorie burn, mood stabilizing, bone density building and metabolism boosting benefits of many different styles of fitness. The results of a study published in Neurology (2012;79-17) showed that people who exercise regularly show fewer signs of brain-shrinkage and other cognitive deterioration compared with those that have a more sedentary lifestyle.

The study included 700 people from Scotland who took intelligence and mental-health tests in 1947. The group underwent the same tests at age 70 and answered questions about types of leisure and physical activities. They also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. The scan results showed that participants who reported higher levels of exercise had less brain shrinkage. A surprising result was that social interactions, playing games, learning languages and reading did not reduce shrinkage.

Why people who integrate fitness into their lifestyle on a regular basis is unclear. Is a healthier brain a product of a more physical lifestyle or does a healthier brain lead to more physical activity (AWomanHealth.com-spring 2013)?

It has been proven that regular exercise increases circulation, and delivers more oxygen to the brain.

USAToday.com, April 14, 2014 reported that “Though there is no real way to combat decreased brain volume as people age” Petersen said. “Studies have shown exercise can slow down the effects of brain volume loss.” He says the study reinforces the need to be aware of symptoms as people age. The study notes that researchers are not sure whether apathy is a precursor to brain shrinkage or if brain shrinkage leads to apathy.

“The study doesn’t show the cause and effect of apathy — it could be that in some people, it signals a pending developing generative disease or cognitive impairment or even early signs of depression,” Petersen says. “It could be any number of things, so the message is don’t ignore symptoms.”

Regular exercise, in combination with eating whole foods versus processed foods helps support a healthy brain and body as you age.


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