Have you ever noticed that people seem to be ageing better these days than they did a few decades ago. For years I’ve been wondering why people in their sixties don’t look as old as they used to and I think I’ve finally figured it out…
Although we cannot halt the inexorable process of grey matter loss completely, the good news is that we can slow its progression. This month a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal “Neurology” describes the influence of regular exercise on the rate of reduction of brain volume and cognitive function in 299 elderly individuals.
It was observed that those individuals of this group of average age 78 who walked in excess of 6 miles per week had a significantly reduced rate of grey matter loss and consequently a lower incidence of cognitive decline. The greater the distance walked each week, the smaller the reduction in volume over a 9 year period within their frontal lobe, occipital lobe, entorhinal cortex and critically, in the hippocampus.
This begs the question – how and why does exercise slow down the rate at which grey matter shrinks?