Exercise Shields from Brain Shrinkage?

exercise for brain health

Exercise. Most of us are probably familiar with the pay-off in cardiovascular health, but are there any other benefits to make sweating in trackpants seem more attractive?

As it turns out, it may also do wonders for your mind, of all things.

Stop Brain Shrinkage

Believe it or not, regular exercise may actually help prevent brain shrinkage.

homer-brain-shrinkage - exercise shields from brain shrinkage

New research by The University of Edinburgh, published in scientific journal Neurology, followed six hundred seventy-year olds for over three years.

The results found a strong positive association with subjects who engaged in more physical exercises and reduced brain shrinkage, in particular in the white matter or myelin, responsible for inter-neuron communication.

This statistical relationship remained strong even when confounding factors such as general health, IQ, education, mental health, social class, and age were accounted for.

And Mental Exercise?

Perhaps surprisingly, the study found no link between regular mental exercise (e.g. Sudoku, crosswords, maths and logic puzzles, chess etc.) and reduced brain shrinkage.

brain-health - exercise shields from brain shrinkage

They are quick to point out though, that due to the nature of their investigation, the results can show only associations. And correlation does not imply causation! It is possible that people with less brain deterioration were simply more likely to remain physically active.

Regardless, the researchers are confident the findings are robust enough to recommend regular physical activity as a brain boon, regardless of age.

What do you think?

Do you think it’s really possible for regular exercise to have such preventative mental health benefits? What about the lack of a link between mental exercise and aging brain health? Is that more a caveat for mental exercise, or perhaps else the study’s methodological limitations?

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