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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Walk a few miles a week to maintain your brain volume

Published online prior to publication by Pittsburgh investigator Erikson in the journal Neurology yesterday is a study reporting the link between physical activity and brain volume and function in the elderly. The 299 participants examined, averaging age 78 at the time the study began, were part of a study of cardiovascular health. The investigators looked at the relationship between physical activity, brain volume, and cognitive function. They split participants into 4 groups according to how much they walked during an average week (the range was 0-300 blocks per week). Brain scans were done 9 years later and cognitive function tests were done 13 years later. Yes, folks, you read that right, 9 and 13 years. These authors certainly cannot be accused of short follow up periods. Those who had been doing more walking maintained greater brain volume, associated with better cognitive function than those who did not walk a lot. Increasing amounts of walking up until 72 blocks per week were associated with improvements in brain volume and cognitive function. Greater amounts of walking than 72 blocks did not result in further increases in brain volume. So, keep trotting, trekkers!

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