This common exercise could help prevent cognitive decline

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Brain tissue is made up of gray matter, or cell bodies, and filaments, called white matter, that extend from the cells.

The volume of gray matter appears to correlate with various skills and cognitive abilities.

In a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers found that cardiorespiratory exercise — walking briskly, running, biking and just about any other exercise that gets your heart pumping — is good for brain health.

They found a link between cardiorespiratory fitness and brain health, particularly in gray matter and total brain volume — regions of the brain involved with cognitive decline and aging.

The study is from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. One author is Katharina Wittfeld, Ph.D.

In the study, the team examined 2,013 adults from two independent cohorts in northeastern Germany. Participants were examined in phases from 1997 through 2012.

Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured using peak oxygen uptake and other standards while participants used an exercise bike. MRI brain data also were analyzed.

The researchers found that increases in peak oxygen uptake were strongly linked to increased gray matter volume.

The higher gray matter volume linked to cardiorespiratory exercise is in brain regions clinically relevant for cognitive changes in aging, including some involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

This provides indirect evidence that aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on cognitive function in addition to physical conditioning.

The results suggest cardiorespiratory exercise may contribute to improved brain health and decelerate a decline in gray matter.

According to the researchers, moderate and regular exercise (about 150 minutes per week) is recommended.

Good cardiorespiratory fitness also involves not smoking, following healthy eating habits, losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight level, managing blood pressure and avoiding hypertension, controlling cholesterol levels, and reducing blood sugar, which over time can damage the heart and other organs.

If you care about cognitive decline, please read studies about these 5 types of food may protect your cognitive functions and findings of depression symptoms could be signs for cognitive decline in some people.

For more information about cognitive health, please see recent studies about a new way to predict cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease and results showing that Mediterranean diet linked to better cognitive function in older people.

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