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Feb 12, 2016 09:09 AM EST

Exercise in middle age increases brain size

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A new study has revealed that the higher the cardiovascular fitness of people in their middle age, the larger the brain volume at a later age, heuwire reports.

Study author Doctor Nicole Spartano, of Boston University School of Medicine in the United States, said,

"We found a direct correlation in our study between poor fitness and brain volume decades later, which indicates accelerated brain ageing".

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

The study analyzed the link between the cardiovascular fitness of people in their 40's and how their brains developed over time.

For the study, Spartano and her colleagues studied data on 1,583 participants who were from the Framingham Heart Study. None of the participants had dementia or heart disease at the average age of 40.

The study had recorded their fitness levels at the average age of 40 via a treadmill test.

The study is now on its third generation of participants.

"The team found that for every eight-unit decrease in performance on the fitness trial, brain volumes dropped in size equivalent to 2 years' additional aging", MNT reports.

The study suggested that people with poor fitness levels have accelerated brain ageing. The study also found that people whose blood pressure and heart rate shot up during exercise were likely to have smaller brains at a later age.

 "While diseases like Alzheimer's are caused by a range of risk factors including age and genetics, damage to the blood supply in the brain also has a role to play", Spartano said.

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