Older people who get more intense exercise are helping to keep their brains in shape, according to an observational study just published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Of the 876 people enrolled in the Northern Manhattan Study, 90 percent reported they didn't exercise at all, or just did light exercise like strolling and yoga. The remaining 10 percent reported they did moderate to high intensity exercise -- things like running and aerobics that get hearts pumping. When researchers compared the two groups, the low-activity group showed greater brain decline over five years than those in the high-activity group. The study subjects were tested on things like how many words they could remember from a list and how fast they could perform simple tasks.
The difference was equal to that of 10 years of aging, according to a press release. The difference also remained after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain health, such as smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and body mass index.
Exercise has long been linked to improved health. A person who intensely exercises is less likely to have issues with hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Previous studies have also shown exercise to reduce the risk of dementia.
So couch potatoes, you've been put on notice!