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Even a little exercise can protect the brain from shrinking, the study suggests



Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

If you stay fit, your brain can not shrink in your old age and aging, suggests a new study on Friday. It turned out that older and older Americans, who had regular regular exercise for one hour during their weekly routine, had larger brains on average than those who did not.

A common consequence of aging is a slower, but steady decline in our age the size of the brain, with an average loss of 0.2 percent, which is associated with aging every year after 60, according to some estimates. This shrinkage is so pervasive that scientists, even in this recent study, use it as a proxy to measure a person's "brain age" and their risk of affecting neurodegenerative disorders.

Total brain volume relative to the intracranial (cranial) volume of a person. In other words, there should not be much room in the skull that is not filled with brain tissue, "said lead author Nicole Spartano, an endocrinologist and scientific professor at Boston University's School of Medicine, to Gizmodo," If we see much extra space , this suggests that the brain may be stunted or shrunken, and this brain atrophy is associated with dementia. "

Spartano is also co-director of the Physical Activity Station of the Framingham Heart Study, a decade-long project that began in 1948 and still running (it was recently funded by the US government for another six years) .The study, which regularly tracks the health of residents living in Framingham, Massachusetts, through a series of tests, now even includes the children and grandchildren of the original one Volunteers in. Spartano and her team studied data in excess of 2,300 Volunteers from these later generations with an average age of 53 years. In addition to MRI scans, the team also had objective evidence of volunteers' recent training habits, as they carried an activity tracker for up to a week at the time of their examination.

"We have observed that people who perform only a little more activity, even in activity with light intensity, have bigger brains than those who do very little," said Spartano. They estimated that each hour of light exercise, which is routinely performed in one week, is specifically estimated that a person's brain would avoid shrinking by 1.1 years (or losing 0.22 percent of its volume).

"We want to clarify this is a cross-sectional study with observational data, which means we can not be sure that physical activity will cause people to have a better brain structure," she added. "However, studies such as the Framingham Heart Study are important to continue funding because they help us discover associations that can be further tested with interventions and other study designs."

The study was published on Friday in JAMA Network Open.

The association between more exercise and less brain shrinkage has also been observed in people who received less than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. This is considered by public health organizations to be the recommended threshold for getting the most out of exercise. And while people who took more steps every day (at least 10,000) had larger brains on average compared to those who only went 5,000 or less, Spartano found no stronger effect solely through the higher intensity exercise. In other words, people who walked the park five days a week were not necessarily worse in brain size than those who jogged or ran. The authors say that this does not require a lot of sweating to keep our brains in shape.

"I think this study could be a great motivator for people who can not (or feel unable to) do the policy-recommended amount of physical activity," said Spartano.

Indeed, public health organizations have and even the federal government has begun to openly acknowledge that people are doing a lot of exercise, even if this is less than the guidelines, and this is not the first study this year that shows that every little bit of movement matters when It is especially important to find a way to keep the aging brain safe as we currently have no treatment or intervention that can clearly prevent or slow the onset of dementia possibly, but not conclusively demonstrated, that movement may be able to do so.

"I also want to emphasize that we know n Certain minority populations may be at a higher risk of developing dementia, so it is extremely important to devote more resources to researching effective prevention measures among people of different races, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, "Sparnato said.

This study could not look at this point of view since most people in the Framingham Heart Study are white and of Caucasian descent, but Spartano and her team plan to investigate how exercise affects brain health across different groups in the near future.


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