BOSTON – Researchers are telling doctors that prescribing exercise can lessen age-related declines in brain structure.

A study on cardiorespiratory fitness form Boston University School of Medicine was published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, and is the first to prove a relationship between fitness and brain structure in older adults – but not in younger adults.

The study compared adults 18-31 with a secondary group aged 55-82 who took MRIs of their brains and measured the fitness of their cardiorespiratory condition while they exercised on a treadmill.

What was found was a positive link between cardiorespiratory fitness and structural integrity of white matter fiber bundles in the brains of the older adults, while no such association was observed in the younger group.

The researchers are saying simple exercise such as walking can improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline while prolonging independent function.

The exercise also improves mood, they said.

The study concludes that additional research is needed to track changes in fitness and brain structure over time, as well as to clarify the impact of specific exercise programs like strength, aerobic or combined training along with frequency, intensity, duration of exercises on white matter microstructure.


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