Burning More Calories Associated with Reduced Alzheimer's Risk



Whether people jog, swim, garden or dance, physically active older persons have larger gray matter volume in key brain areas responsible for memory and cognition, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UCLA.




reduce alzheimer's risk



Can Exercise Reduce Your Genetic Risk?


The findings showed that people who had Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment experienced less gray matter volume reduction over time if their exercise-associated calorie burn was high.

A growing number of studies indicate physical activity can help protect the brain from cognitive decline. But typically, people are more sedentary as they get older, which also is when the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increases.

Physical Activity Can Help!

This study is one of the largest to examine the relationship between physical activity and cognitive decline, and the results strongly support:


  • Staying active maintains brain health.
  • Increased energy output from a variety of physical activities is related to larger grey matter in the elderly.


The data was obtained over five years from nearly 876 people 65 or older participating in the multicenter Cardiovascular Health Study. All participants had brain scans and periodic cognitive assessments. They also were surveyed about how frequently they engaged in:


  • Physical activities
  • Walking
  • Tennis
  • Dancing
  • Golfing


What They Found

The individuals who burned the most calories had larger gray matter volumes in the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of the brain. These areas are associated with memory, learning and performing complex cognitive tasks. More than 300 participants, those with the highest energy expenditure, had larger gray matter volumes in key areas on initial brain scans and were half as likely to have developed Alzheimer’s disease five years later.


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