Keep moving: It’s good for your brain’s health
Aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on cognitive function in addition to keeping your body in great shape.
We’ve heard it before: Exercise is good for your health. Now a new study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases shows that exercise can keep our brains healthy, too.
Over 2,000 adults took part in the study that measured their brain data according to their fitness habits. Researchers found that walking briskly, running, biking and other cardiorespiratory exercises helps with cognition and increased gray matter volume.
The gray matter in our brains refers to cell bodies of nerve cells. More gray matter means better learning capabilities and memory. While we lose gray matter as we age, this study shows that it is possible to increase the gray matter.
“This provides indirect evidence that aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on cognitive function in addition to physical conditioning,” says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist and first author of an editorial that accompanies the study.
“This is another piece of the puzzle showing physical activity and physical fitness is protective against aging-related cognitive decline,” says Michael Joyner, M.D., a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and physiologist, and editorial co-author.
The Mayo Clinic experts say good cardiorespiratory fitness includes about 150 minutes of exercise per week together with following healthy eating habits and not smoking.