Researchers found that older adults, with or without Alzheimer’s, who exercise consistently, have more grey matter than their sedentary peers. Grey matter, which is responsible for memory, speech, and most other information processing, can even be increased in seniors who begin exercising late in life.
The UCLA researchers asked 876 adults, with an average age of 78, about their exercise habits, which included deliberate exercise like dancing and running as well as chores, like yard work. MRI scans were also performed on all participants. Researchers found that the most active participants had 5 percent more grey matter than the least active participants. Parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning, such as the temporal lobes and hippocampus, were larger in the participants that exercised the most. Exercise had the same effect on both participants with or without Alzheimer’s disease. "(Those with Alzheimer’s) weren't cured but they had less deterioration in these brain areas than people with Alzheimer's who were less active," explained UCLA researcher Dr. Cyrus Raji.
When researchers followed up with participants 5 years later, those who increased the amount of calories they burned over that period were found to have experienced increases in grey matter as well. “No pharmaceutical drug on the market has been shown to have these effects on the brain -- not a single drug,” said Raji. “And it doesn’t cost anything.”Read more about the study in the article: This Is Your Brain On Exercise
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