University of Edinburgh researchers have reported that brain shrinkage is less for people over 70 years old when they take regular exercise.
In addition, the researchers also found that those who get fit and keep fit had more grey matter (ie the nerve cell bodies) and more white matter (the connections that pass messages from one part of the brain to another).
Interestingly, the researchers also found that brain health did not see a benefit from social of mentally stimulating activies – although there is plenty of research to show that mental activity can prevent or slow the onset of dementia.
The team from Edinburgh looked at keep fit activities which ranged from keeping the house tidy to joining a gym class or personal fitness trainer or participating in competitive sports such as race running.
Professor Goodwin – who led the research – said that ‘we already know that exercise helps reduce old age illness such as alzheimers… [but this research] opens the doors to tailored exercise programmes.”
Of course, readers of FitNW won’t be suprised to read this, but is it still good to know that the evidence is growing to support what we already intuitively know.
And that is, that exercise and diet are key to remaining fit and healthy both physically and mentally.
This research was funded by Age UK who have also written a report on how exercise keeps us mentally and physically healthy.