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brain volume

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Exercise Helps Your Brain!

Greater caloric expenditure is associated with more brain matter.

Good news (again) for those who exercise! Individuals with or without Alzheimer's disease who are physically active tend to have 5% greater brain gray matter volume than those who are less physically active. A recent study of 876 individuals who were approximately 78 years old compared those who expended 3434 calories per week with those who expended 348. The results were reported in an abstract at the RSNA meetings last week.

PositiveTip: An active lifestyle can positively benefit brain structure! 

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Physical Activity Improves Brain Size

Regular physical activity maintains brain volume in elderly.

Using structural MRIs, Scottish researchers have found physical activity in older individuals resulted in less brain atrophy and increased gray matter volume. In this study 700 individuals age 70 self-reported their regular activities, then 3 years later MRI tests were performed. These findings held true even after controlling for age, sex, health, and intelligence.

PositiveTip: Be sure to get your physical activity today--it's good for all aspects of your health.

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Physical Activity Can Reverse Brain Loss in Elderly

Physical activity can preserve memory in the brains of the elderly.

A group of 120 older adults were randomly assigned between two groups: the first group had three moderate aerobic workouts a week, and the second group only stretched for the same amount of time. MRI imaging and memory tests were done at the beginning, after 6 months and after 1 year. Those who only stretched showed a 1.4% decline in brain volume (the hippocampus), while the brain volume of those who moderately exercised actually increased more than 2%. Both groups had memory improvement, but the group doing aerobic exercise showed more.

PositiveTip: Moderate aerobic exercise is a pretty cheap and easy-to-implement intervention to preserve brain function.

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Bigger Stomachs, Smaller Brains?

People with more abdominal fat have smaller total brain volume.

Could it really be related? Midlife obesity has long been associated with increased risk of dementia, although the how the relationship works has been poorly understood. 

Researchers examined possible associations between cerebral brain volume and obesity in 733 middle age community adults. They found a significant association between visceral (abdominal) fat and low total brain volume. The authors suggest that inflammation resulting from fat cells may negatively impact brain tissue.