A recent study suggests that people who do this during middle age are likely to have bigger brains in their later years.
Scientists working at Boston University have released a study that suggests exercising during middle age can help people maintain brain size later in life. According to a UPI report, people who remain active in their 40s were found to have higher brain volumes on average.
Researchers believe the link is related to cardiovascular health and blood pressure. The body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the brain depends on a healthy circulatory system, and people who exercise in middle ages maintain this key function at a critical time.
Adding to the long list of benefits derived from regular exercise, the study suggests that it is especially important during middle age. According to Dr. Nicole Spartano, a scientist from the Boston University School of Medicine, “While not yet studied on a large scale, these results suggest that fitness in middle age may be particularly important for the many millions of people around the world who already have evidence of heart disease.”
The study was published in the journal Neurology. Researchers examined treadmill tests from 1,583 people who participated in the Framingham Heart Study. The participants were free of dementia or heart disease at the time of the test, and had an average age of 40 at the beginning.
The participants were tested on their ability to run on a treadmill at the beginning of the study, which was paired with an MRI scan of the brain. The scientists followed up with the participants an average of 18 years later, with a second treadmill test and MRI scan.
The scientists measured the amount of oxygen burned during the treadmill tests, and took other measurements including blood pressure and heart rate. They found that people who were in better shape during their 40s had higher brain volumes later in life. Even after researchers controlled for participants that had developed heart disease or were taking beta blockers to regulate their blood pressure, they still found that more active people had larger brains later in life.
“Over the course of a lifetime, improved blood flow may have an impact on brain aging and prevent cognitive decline in older age,” said Spartano. “The broad message is that health and lifestyle choices that you make throughout your life may have consequences many years later.”