Science has proven that physically active people have bigger brains than their lazy peers. So, if you lack motivation to exercise more here’s one extra reason to do it.
Scientists found that in midlife, people who abhorred physical activity up to that point had smaller brains than people who remained active for at least 20 years.
The study, which was published this week in Neurology, involved 1,583 volunteers that were not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a cardiovascular condition. Study participants were asked to provide real-time data on their fitness level on an experimental treadmill. Two decades later, participants were asked to repeat the move and have their brain scanned.
Scientists found that people who couldn’t exercise too much on the treadmill before their heart rate went dangerously high in their youth, had a higher risk of having smaller brains two decades later.
By contrast, physically fit people in their middle life have larger brains. Researchers also found a link between lack of exercise and heart beat spikes and high blood pressure which may signal later cardiovascular troubles.
But study authors acknowledged that their study has some limitations. For instance, study participants didn’t have their brains scanned 20 years ago. So, researchers are not quite sure whether their brains got larger over the years due to workout or their brains got smaller due to lack of exercise. Yet, the recent study confirms previous findings that underscored a link between physical activity and lower risk of cognitive decline.
Scientists wrote in their paper that they aren’t sure about the period in life when workout affects the most brain volume either. So it isn’t clear whether being physically active in midlife or later on would make a difference. Nicole Spartano, senior researcher involved in the study, believes that both periods may be equally important. Currently, the team plans a follow-up on the issue.
Past research had also shown that exercise not only helps you build a stronger body, but it also helps you build a stronger brain. Several studies had shown that the best physical exercise for the brain is aerobic exercise, or whatever makes your heart pump really hard, and forces you to sweat and breathe hard. This includes dancing, running and even skating.
School kids are often recommended to stay physically sharp if they want positive outcomes in class. Exercise helps you learn new things easier because it provides the brain with much-needed ‘food’ such as oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream.
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