Recently, a study conducted by researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine has been published in The Journal of Neurology, which has found associations between fitness and brain volume later in life. What has been found, is that poor fitness around the ages of 30-40 is correlated with decreased brain volume two decades later. Many people may be familiar with the notion that exercise is the fountain of youth. Perhaps there are multiple reasons for this and mechanisms of action that allow for this to be possible. This study suggests that brain size may be one aspect of health that exercise can preserve as one ages. By slowing down the rate of brain change, the implications may include prolonged mental capacity, memory and brain function as one journeys through the aging process.

“For every eight units lower a person performed on the treadmill test, their brain volume two decades later was smaller, equivalent to two years of accelerated brain ageing.”

For this investigation, 1583 participants were analyzed via a treadmill test. Subjects had an average age of 40 and were clear of dementia and heart disease over the entire duration of the study. Exercise capacity, peak VO2, was obtained from subjects at the beginning of the study and 2 years later along with MRI brain scans. The main finding was that poor cardiovascular fitness is related to a decreased total cerebral brain volume two decades later.

All in all, “Promotion of midlife CV fitness may be an important step towards ensuring healthy brain aging.”  Interestingly, this suggests that not only can exercise preserve the body with aging, it may also slow aging of the brain.

The Telegraph:  Exercising in your forties could stop brain shrinking