Staying active in old age 'can protect a person's cognitive health'

24 October 2012

Elderly people who continue to exercise can help to prevent their brain size from shrinking, a phenomenon which can lead to a number of serious brain problems.

Scientists based at Edinburgh University have found that people who stay active into their 70s can reduce the risk of their brain showing signs of ageing linked to dementia.

The researchers came to this conclusion by analysing the brain scans of 638 people who are past the age of retirement.

Each participant who remained physically active throughout the three-year study period had less brain shrinkage than those who opted not to exercise frequently.

The research, which was published in the journal Neurology, stated that exercise did not need to be rigorous – going for a walk several times a week was enough to show the benefits.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, commented: "This study links physical exercise to fewer signs of ageing in the brain, suggesting that it may be a way of protecting our cognitive health."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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