Harvard Women's Health Watch

Exercise protects against age-related brain shrinkage

If you're looking for ways to prevent age-related mental decline, add exercise to your to-do list. A study published in the October 23, 2012, issue of the journal Neurology finds that exercising several times a week protects the brain from age-related changes even better than social and mentally stimulating activities. The study included 638 Scottish people in their early 70s. The participants filled out a questionnaire about their exercise habits and underwent a brain MRI scan. Those who exercised regularly had less brain shrinkage—including in areas of the brain responsible for thinking ability and memory. This isn't the first study to acknowledge the benefits of physical activity on the brain. And even though it wasn't designed to prove cause and effect, it does offer yet another reason to slip on your sneakers and exercise several days a week.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »