Regular exercise may shrink waistlines, but a long-term study suggests it
increases brain volume and lowers the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Researchers followed 1,583 middle-aged men and women with no personal
history of dementia or heart disease over the course of two decades. At the
start of the study, participants underwent an MRI and took a physical fitness
test on a treadmill, during which their heart rate and blood pressure were also
monitored. The procedures were repeated 20 years later, and after factoring out
people who had developed heart disease and high blood pressure, the research-
ers found that the ones who kept in shape were more likely to have larger
brains. On the other hand, poorly conditioned participants had lost gray matter.
“Our brains shrink as we age, and this atrophy is related to cognitive decline
and increased risk for dementia,” study author Nicole Spartano of Boston
University tells CBSNews.com. “This study suggests that people with poor
fitness have accelerated brain aging.”
March 3, 2016