Older people who expend more energy on physical activity each week tend to have more gray matter in their brains than less active peers, according to a recent U.S. study.
Exercise, including activities like walking and running, is linked to preserved brain structure, even among individuals with mild and severe symptoms of mental decline, said coauthor James T. Becker, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“The volumes of these critical brain regions themselves predict the transition from normal cognition to some degree of impairment (mild or severe),” Becker told Reuters Health by email.
The researchers analyzed data from a long-term cardiovascular health study of 876 people, aged 65 years and older when they enrolled, who underwent cognitive assessments, volumetric brain imaging and answered questionnaires about their activities.
"Longitudinal Relationships between Caloric Expenditure and Gray Matter in the Cardiovascular Health Study," by Cyrus A. Raji, David A. Merrill, Harris Eyre, Sravya Mallam, Nare Torosyan, Kirk I. Erickson, Oscar L. Lopez, James T. Beckere, Owen T. Carmichael, H. Michael Gach, Paul M. Thompson, W.T. Longstreth, Jr., and Lewis H. Kuller, DOI: 10.3233/JAD-160057, published online ahead of its issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-160057
In : Memory