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Exercise May Improve Brain Volume in People with Mild Cognitive Impairment

People with mild cognitive impairment are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. A recent study suggests that exercising may help increase brain volume in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Participants in the study included 35 adults with mild cognitive impairment and an average age of 63. Over the course of six months, 16 participants engaged in aerobic exercise four times per week while the other 19 performed stretching exercises. The researchers conducted high-resolution brain MR images at the beginning and end of the study period in order to measure brain volume and shape.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted increases in brain volume in most gray matter regions in both groups. However, the aerobic group had greater preservation of total brain volume, more local gray matter volume, and increased directional stretch of brain tissue compared to the stretching group. The stretching group also showed atrophy in the white matter connecting fibers, which can be related to brain volume loss.

The aerobic group also had statistically significant improvement in executive function after six months, while the stretching group did not.

Researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina conducted the study. It was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America on November 30, 2016.

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise may help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health, improve respiratory health and reduce your risk of dying prematurely.

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