‘Maintain brain size – exercise’

Posted by Helen Potter on 22 December 2017 | Filed under Blog, Brain training, In Touch Physiotherapy

Maintain brain size – exercise’






Aerobic exercise improves memory function and maintains brain health as we age. (Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine  at Western Sydney University and the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the UK). Publisher NeuroImage

There is a positive effects of aerobic exercise on a the braain’s hippocampus. This is critical for memory and other brain functions. 

Brain health

Our brain health decreases with age, with shrinkage of about five percent per decade after the age of 40.

Exercise research

Trials examining the brain scans of 737 people before and after aerobic exercise programs or in control conditions found positive results.

The participants were a mix of healthy adults, people with mild cognitive impairment and people with a clinical diagnosis of mental illness including depression and schizophrenia. Ages range from 24 to 76 years with an average age of 66. The researchers examined effects of aerobic exercise, including stationary cycling, walking, and treadmill running. The length of the interventions range was three to 24 months with a range of 2-5 sessions per week.


Overall, the results show tha exercise significantly increased the size of the left region of the hippocampus in humans.

Lead author, NICM postdoctoral research fellow, Joseph Firth said the study provides some of the most definitive evidence to date on the benefits of exercise for brain health. “When you exercise you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,” Mr Firth said.

“Our data shows that the main ‘brain benefits’ are due to aerobic exercise slowing down the deterioration in brain size. In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain.”

Exercise is positive

Mr Firth said along with improving regular ‘healthy’ ageing, the results have implications for the prevention of ageing-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia – however further research is needed to establish this.

Physical exercise is a ‘proven’ method to  ‘Maintain brain size and functioning into older age.

(Source: Western Sydney UniversityNeuroImage)

calendar icon Article Date: 2/12/2017 Added by Helen Potter FACP

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