Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Exercise Slows Brain Aging

Mar. 12, 2020

Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that’s a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect.
~ Rob Reiner

Exercise has been shown to protect against cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. A new study adds to that data by demonstrating that active older adults have bigger brains than inactive folks.

Researchers divided 1,557 multi-ethnic participants, with an average age of 75, into three groups. They collected information on leisure time physical activity and conducted MRI scans on the participants. When they compared the brain volume of the most active third to that of the least active third of participants, they found that the active group had larger brains, and that was equivalent to a reduction in between 3 and 4 years of aging. Activities reported by the participants included walking, gardening, swimming, and dancing.

Exercise is associated with larger brain volume in the elderly, which helps to explain how it defends against cognitive decline.

Takeaway: Exercise, anything that raises your heart rate, is probably the most important self-care activity you can commit to for enhanced brain health.

Sources

  1. Eric Garner, The Art of Leadership: 500 Quotes on How to Lead Others 6 (2012), https://books.google.com/books?id=2BUloV1PVAMC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=%E2%80%9CEverybody+talks+about+wanting+to+change+things+and+help+and+fix,+but+ultimately+all+you+can+do+is+fix+yourself.+And+that’s+a+lot.+Because+if+you+can+fix+yourself,+it+has+a+ripple+effect.%E2%80%9D+%E2%80%95Rob+Reiner&source=bl&ots=YwZ16qOsaZ&sig=ACfU3U12vaO-BeQ5XUH5h4-dMk9gBlDEXQ&hl=en&ppis=_e&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwibyfuK243oAhXfAp0JHVotD_oQ6AEwDXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. Yian Gu, Jennifer Manly, Nicole Schupf, Richard Mayeux, Adam Brickman, Leisure Time Physical Activity and MRI-based Brain Measures in a Multi-ethnic Elderly Cohort, a preliminary study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020, https://aanfiles.blob.core.windows.net/aanfiles/71556e42-2d07-4ea5-b147-a1698a4c4593/EMBARGOED%202020%20AAN%20AM%20Abstract%20-%20Leisure%20Time%20Physical%20Activity%20and%20MRI-based%20Brain%20Measures%20in%20a%20Multi-ethnic%20Elderly%20Cohort%20-%20Gu%20titled.pdf
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