Can being active really make a difference in later life to the health of your brain? How much of a difference and HOW active do your really need to be to see the benefits?
Latest, hot off the press research, helps us with a few more answers to these questions.
First things first- Yes being active at any age is vital for the health of our brains, including our mental health.
A new piece of research puts the benefits of exercise in perspective. The researchers looked at over 1500 people with an average age of 75. Brain scans were used as a measuring tool as well as tests for memory and thinking. The images from the scans were used to look at brain size and the amounts of brain tissue known as white and grey matter.
Participants were divided into groups depending on levels of activity ( somewhat active, most active, inactive)
What they found was that the brain scans of those who were most active showed impressive results. The adults who had been in the highest activity group had an improvement in the volume of their brain compared to the brains of those in the inactive group- this was equivalent of slowing brain ageing by approximately 4 years according to researchers.
Why is that important ? Our brain shrinks as a natural consequence of ageing, usually around the age of 60- 70 years. This can have an effect on our brains and many aspects of how they function. Anything we can do to slow down the shrinkage of our brains and therefore maintain the health of our brain is important
(In case you were wondering:
Somewhat active- roughly 2.5 hours of low intensity physical activity, one and a half hours of moderate physical activity to one hour of high intensity physical activity
Most active- 7 hours of low intensity physical activity, 4 hours of moderate physical activity or 2 hours of high intensity physical activity)
Dr Clara Russell