DEC 28, 2023 7:45 PM PST

Exercise Leads to a Healthier Brain

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

According to new research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, regularly exercising may contribute to better brain health, including greater brain volume in key regions.

In the study, over 10,000 participants underwent whole-body MRI scans. Using these scans, the participants’ brain volumes were calculated. Additionally, participants were asked how often they engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity. The goal of the study was to see how regularly engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity is related to brain volume.

The results of the study showed that participants who regularly participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity tended to have larger brain volumes. Interestingly, their brains tended to have more volume in specific areas, including gray matter (important for processing information), white matter (the matter that connects different brain regions), and the hippocampus (important for memory).

The authors of the study pointed out that these results support earlier research showing that regular exercise is good for the brain and can lower the risk of dementia. Furthermore, regular exercise can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health. This study showed that a relatively small amount of physical activity, such as walking about 4,000 steps per day, can positively affect brain health. This relatively small amount of activity is also enough to improve cardiovascular health, and 4,000 steps per day is more achievable for many people than the often-recommended 10,000 steps per day. Larger brain volume generally suggests neuroprotective benefits, and this study helps explain how modifiable lifestyle factors such as exercise may help prevent dementia. Previous research has shown that exercise is one of many lifestyle factors that are related to the risk of developing dementia. Other factors include diet, stress, and social connection.

Sources: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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