Walking, gardening, swimming, dancing and other leisurely activities may prevent brain shrinkage in older adults, a new study finds.
To examine the association between physical activity and brain aging, researchers from Columbia University assessed activity levels of older adults and analyzed the quality of their brains via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
They found that those who were more active had larger brain volumes than their inactive counterparts, indicating that physical activity may help to slow brain volume loss, said Dr. Yian Gu, study author and assistant professor of neurological sciences at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Shrinkage of the brain typically starts around the age of 60 or 70 years, slowing processing and cognitive functions.
“Our results add to the evidence that more physical activity is linked to larger brain volume in older people,” said Gu, speaking about the research she’s presenting at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in April.
“It also builds on evidence that moving your body more often throughout one’s life may protect against loss of brain volume.”