The next time you feel too tired or worn out to work out think again. Recent research shows us that exercising regularly and for the long term keeps our brains healthier and more robust longer helping us to stave off cognitive decline and dementia.
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 researchers 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.”