Move the Body to Keep the Brain Active

Exercise reduces risks of silent strokes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Aging is unavoidable, but one way to help slow the development of the diseases that sometimes come with old age is exercise. Staying active as one ages is an important part of maintaining health in body and brain

Exercise provides many benefits for the body. Now researchers have found similar results for the brain. A study shows that moderate to intense exercise can help prevent brain damage in older people.

"Exercise helps older people maintain a healthy brain."

Lead author, Joshua Z. Willey, M.D., M.S., from Columbia University in New York and member of the American Academy of Neurology, studied the effects exercise had on the brain.

The study included 1,238 stroke-free participants who were asked to complete questionnaires and provide brain scans about six years later. The average age of participant was 70.

The majority of participants - 43 percent - had no exercise and 36 percent reported little exercise. The remaining 21 percent regularly exercised with moderate to intense levels.

Brain imaging found that 16 percent of all participants showed brain lesions/silent strokes. Silent strokes have often been linked to" increased risk of falls and impaired mobility, memory problems and even dementia, as well as stroke," according to Willey.

Researchers found that participants who engaged in moderate to intense exercise regularly had 40 percent less likely chance of having brain lesions. Researchers did not find any improvement in light exercise. However, Willey says the findings regarding light exercise should not be seen as discouraging, because exercise at any level offers a number of other benefits.

Fitness expert Jim Crowell agrees, "The combination of diet and fitness has shown great effects on all muscles and organs of people's bodies. Weight loss, increased cardiovascular health, and increased energy have a way of making the elderly happier too which helps their stress levels and leads them to a healthier place."

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Review Date: 
June 10, 2011
Last Updated:
June 13, 2011