Exercise Lowers Risk of Dementia



There are so many benefits that can come from exercise for people of all ages, the more reason there is in prevention of other health issues the more likely that people will stay healthy by taking the advice to exercise. 

Posted by James Lamper



Experts from Edinburgh University have said that by exercising when you are in your 70s could stop your brain from shrinking which can be an age associated sign of dementia. 

Scans taken of 638 peoples brains who were all past the retirement age have shown that those who are more physically active had less brain shrinkage over a three year period compared to those who did not exercise as much. The exercise could be going for several walks a week and did not need to be highly active to have the positive effects. However by just giving your mind a workout such as by doing a crossword did not have the same positive effect. 

It is already known that the brain tends to shrink as you age, and that this can cause bad memory and thinking. It has also been shown in previous studies that exercise can reduce the risk of dementia. 

These links could be because when you exercise there is increased blood flow to the brain which is delivering oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells. Another theory is that as people age and their brain shrinks they then become less likely to exercise, so the idea to exercise needs to come before the aging causes the shrinkage. 

Whichever theory is correct, it is all good news as exercise in general is good for the health and should be undertaken anyways. 

Dr Simon Ridley who is the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “This study links physical exercise to fewer signs of ageing in the brain, suggesting that it may be a way of protecting our cognitive health. While we can’t say that exercise is the causal factor in this study, we do know that exercise in middle age can lower the risk of dementia later in life. It will be important to follow these volunteers to see whether these structural features are associated with greater cognitive decline over the coming years. More research is also needed to tease out how physical activity might be having a beneficial effect.”

Prof James Goodwin who is the head of research at Age UK, the charity that provided the funding for the research, said: “This research re-emphasises that it really is never too late to benefit from exercise, so whether it’s a brisk walk to the shops, gardening or competing in a fun run it is crucial that, those of us who can, get active as we grow older.”


Original article can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20026099