We know from previous studies that sitting too long can cause cancer, heart disease and depression. And now there’s a new threat to add to the list…a shrinking brain.
The American Academy of Neurology just published a longitudinal study conducted by researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine that found a link between physical fitness and brain size.
Over 1,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study (who didn’t have heart disease or dementia) took a treadmill test when they were in their 40s.
Two decades later, these folks (now in their 60s) got re-evaluated. MRI and brain scans showed that those who had performed poorly on the treadmill test in their 40s had smaller brains than the people who were in better shape. In fact, every 8 units lower a person scored on the treadmill test (measured by their oxygen capacity, or VO2 max) was associated with one to two years of accelerated brain shrinkage later on.
While the researchers were careful to note that their observation doesn’t necessarily prove anything, the connection makes sense.
Exercise helps pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body — including to the brain. So if you don’t exercise, you’re depriving your brain of the nutrition it needs. Which causes it to shrink.
So as I’ve said many times before, it’s absolutely essential for you to get up and get moving. Every single day.
Of course, there are also some other proactive measures you can take to prevent — and even reverse — brain shrinkage. In fact, just last year researchers at Oxford University discovered that a combination of three simple B vitamins — B6, B12 and folic acid — can directly combat brain shrinkage. And, in turn, help keep your memory intact.
MRIs showed that this mixture of B vitamins and folic acid specifically helped protect areas directly affected by brain shrinkage. It was actually the first treatment of any kind to have this protective effect on the brain.
And of course, I’ve covered some other natural brain boosters recently that have impressive science backing them. (See the Reality Health Check “New breakthrough targets the silent culprit behind memory loss” and “Squash “senior moments” in as little as ONE HOUR”.)
The bottom line is, there’s plenty you can do now to make sure your brain stays sharp and healthy well into your retirement.