Want To Stay Intellectually Fit? Cardio Exercise May Help Keep Your Brain Healthy

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  • A growing number of evidence suggest that cardio exercises are good for brain health
  • Exercise helps maintain the brain’s gray matter, which is linked to thinking abilities and other skills
  • Besides physical conditioning, aerobic exercise can also have a positive effect on cognitive function

Cardio exercises are known to help with physical health and are particularly beneficial for those who want to lose weight. A growing number of evidence, however, also suggest that cardio is also good for brain health.

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In a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings on Jan. 2, researchers found a link between cardi0vascular exercise and better brain health.

Study researcher Katharina Wittfeld, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, and colleagues used cardi0pulm0nary exercise testing and MRI scans to examine the brain health of more than 2,000 participants. They found an association between higher gray matter volume and cardi0respiratory exercise.

The researchers said exercise helps maintain the brain’s gray matter, which is linked to thinking abilities and other skills. Keeping the gray matter intact thus helps in preventing thinking declines.

“Cardi0respiratory fitness was positively associated with gray matter volume, total brain volume, and specific gray matter and white matter clusters in brain areas not primarily involved in movement processing,” the researchers wrote in their study.

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Mayo Clinic neurologist Ronald Petersen said that the most salient part of the study results is the emphasis on the effects of exercise in improving a person’s cognitive well-being. He said the research offers an indirect evidence that besides physical conditioning, aerobic exercise can also have a positive effect on cognitive function.

“There is good evidence for the value of exercise in midlife, but it is encouraging that there can be positive effects on the brain in later life as well.”

Mayo Clinic experts recommend moderate and regular exercise for about 150 minutes per week.

Physical exercise should also be ideally paired with a healthy lifestyle, such as reducing bl0od sugar and cholesterol levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and not sm0king.