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Here’s One Easy Way to Avoid Brain Shrinkage



Recent research shows a link between exercise and brain size. One study indicates neglecting workouts can lead to brain shrinkage, which can speed brain aging and worsen cognitive decline. Another study suggests exercise can cause enlargement of regions of the brain related to movement, a benefit that could help prevent falling and mobility limitations in old age.

Earlier studies have already associated exercise with weight management along with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. Prior investigations also suggest regular physical activity may lead to sharper thinking and reduced mental fatigue.

Shirking Workouts Leads to Brain Shrinkage 20 Years Later

Research presented at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association Epidemiology/Lifestyle is particularly titillating because it found that shirking exercise could lead to shrunken brain tissue 20 years later. The study’s participants were 1,200 adults whose age averaged 41. At the onset, scientists reviewed exercise data; and 20 years later, they administered MRI scans and cognitive tests.
The findings showed that individuals who were less fit in midlife due to inadequate exercise had less brain tissue in later life. Disturbingly, this smaller volume of brain tissue appeared to be linked to cognitive impairment, as the participants scored poorly on a cognitive test for decision-making. Lead author Nicole Spartano, Ph.D., said the results suggest an association between a lack of fitness and accelerated brain aging.

Exercise Enlarges Brain Areas that Contribute to Balance and Coordination

In a small study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers discovered that regular workouts enlarge brain regions that contribute to balance and coordination. The participants chosen were 10 male pairs of identical twins aged 32 to 36 years. Twins were the focus of the experiment because they have the same DNA, a factor that allowed the scientists to evaluate the effects of exercise on their bodies. In each pair of twins, one brother had exercised regularly over the past three years while the other brother had been inactive. Before the 3-year period, they had exercised approximately the same amount.

The MRI scans didn’t show an increase in size of the entire brain of the active brothers, but they did reveal an increased volume of gray matter in areas of the brain involved in movement. In addition, the active twins had healthier blood sugar levels, a finding that adds more evidence to the link between fitness and lower rates of diabetes.


Taken together, the results of the studies indicate exercise may prevent brain shrinkage as well as help prevent falling and immobility, common maladies associated with old age. The message is unmistakably clear : to reduce the effects of aging on the brain and enjoy better health, exercise regularly. It will pay off now and in the future, too.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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