The road to successful cognitive ageing is long and not without obstacles. The question proposed at the World Congress on Active Ageing in Glasgow this week was related to the role of exercise in protecting cognitive decline. UCL and MRC researchers examined the role of physical activity in early midlife (age 36 and 43 years) on cognitive abilities and cognitive decline from 43 at 60 + years in participants from British 1946 Birth Cohort. Their results suggest that the most active levels of physical activity at both 36 and 43 years showed a protection in verbal memory performance at age 43 compared to inactive levels. Both exercising and keeping active make a considerable difference for mind, memory and mood, therefore promoting vigorous levels of activity until later in life should be an important priority for a healthy heart and brain.