Over the past few years there’s been a lot of press suggesting that regular exercise protects not just against a range of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, but it can also keep our brains healthy by slowing down the overall rate of cognitive decline. The authors of this study tested this theory by using MRIs to measure various markers of brain age to evaluate differences in a group of 225 older adults who went through an exercise intervention and compared these findings to a group 260 older adults who did not perform the exercise intervention. The authors evaluated aerobic capacity, physical activity, sleep, and body composition before and after the intervention. At the end of the study, the authors concluded that exercise had no effect on brain age and the biggest predictors of poor brain health is the presence of elevated body mass index, particularly the presence of visceral adipose tissue. The authors state: “These findings suggest that focus on weight control, particularly reduction of central obesity, could be an interventional target to promote healthier brains.”
Wing D, et al. Fatness but not Fitness Linked to Brain Age: Longitudinal Changes in Brain Aging during an Exercise Intervention. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2023 Oct 17.
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