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Exercise Linked to Greater Brain Volume

Cyrus Raji, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in radiology at the University of California Los Angeles, reports that people who lead an active lifestyle tend to have greater brain volumes than sedentary people. Furthermore, people who have Alzheimer’s disease also benefit from burning more calories since they exhibited less deterioration in the grey matter of their brains.

Raji and colleagues conducted a study on more than 800 people who were around 78 years old. Most of them where white and completed high school. Less than half of the participants were men, and their average body mass index indicated overweight. About a quarter of the patients had been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Employing the Minnesota Leisure Time Questionnaire, the researchers analyzed the number of calories the participants spent in various activities, including swimming, aerobics, hiking, jogging, handball, tennis, walking, mowing, golfing, dancing, and others. Their brain volumes were determined using magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry. The most active participants expended more than 3,000 calories a week, while the least active expended only about 350 calories a week.

The results of their analysis showed that the most active people had a significantly greater brain volume than the sedentary individuals. This affected areas of the brain which are concerned with memory and learning. According to the researchers, larger brain volumes are associated with better brain health. They also note that although a change to a more active lifestyle does not cure Alzheimer’s disease (a common form of dementia), exercise can help prevent deterioration in brain function.


Susman, E. Exercise Helps Alzheimer’s Patients’ Brains. MedPage Today.

Posted in: Brain Health, Exercise, News Briefs

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