Exercise may increase mental acuity in the elderly

We all know that exercise can increase our physical health but according to the latest research exercise may also bulk up our brain muscles, especially as we age. The study found that subjects in their 70’s who made sure to get plenty of physical exercise including, walking and swimming had larger brains than those who were sedentary in their later years. Surprisingly those who engaged in mental exercises such as reading and doing crossword puzzles experienced the same brain shrinkage as those who were inactive. Brain shrinkage has always been seen as a natural part of the aging process and has a lot to do with memory decline as we get older but this research has given us a key to remain sharp and aware longer. The study followed 700 people from the United Kingdom. At the age of 70 all 700 participants were given a survey to determine who much and what type of physical activity they engaged in. 3 years later, at the age of 73, the same group was given a brain scan. Researchers found that those who were the most active had the largest volume of grey and white matter in their brains. Researchers also found that the more active participants were less likely to suffer from brain lesions that have been linked to mental decline in the elderly.

The good news for the elderly is that introducing exercise at any point in life is believed to help protect the brain, it’s never too late. Another study conducted in Canada last year studied 120 seniors who were yet to exhibit signs of dementia. One group was asked to walk 30- 45 minutes a day several times a week and another group just did stretching exercises. After a year of exercise the walking group showed growth in the part of the brain than handles memory compared to slight shrinkage in the group that only stretched every day.

 

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