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Exercise for Brain Health and Dementia Risk

Large international study shows exercise linked with brain size and fitness.

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Exercise and Brain Health

Exercise, even at moderate levels, is linked with maintaining brain health and size and reducing dementia risks as people age. Researchers from multiple institutions reviewed brain scans from 10,125 healthy middle-aged men and women, and analyzed the connection between activities like walking, running or sports participation, with the volume of grey and white matter in the brain. Findings showed that even ‘lower’ physical activity levels—fewer than 4,000 daily steps—are related to maintenance of brain tissue.
“Our research links regular physical activity to larger brain volumes, suggesting neuroprotective benefits. This large sample study furthers our understanding of lifestyle factors in brain health and dementia prevention,” says study co-author, Somayeh Meysami, MD, assistant professor of neurosciences at Saint John’s Cancer Institute and the Pacific Brain Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

The study on exercise and brain health is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2023; doi: 10.3233/JAD-230740).


Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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