Neuroprotective lifestyles and the aging brain | Heart and Vascular Health |

Increased participation in leisure & physical activities may be cognitively protective. Whether activity might protect the integrity of the brain's white matter, or reduce atrophy & white matter lesion (WML) load, was examined in 691adults.

WMLs  are areas of demyelinated cells found in the white matter of the brain. Minor cases that are commonly found in people over 65 years old, are thought to be the result of normal aging. It's not clear how or if white matter lesions directly cause brain dysfunction, they can be used as biomarkers for underlying pathology. There is a proven connection between WMLs and a decrease in brain volume, loss of memory and vision, and a decrease in cognitive ability. 

In this large, narrow-age sample of adults in their 70s, physical activity was associated with less atrophy and WML. Its role as a potential neuroprotective factor is supported; however, the direction of causation is unclear from this observational study.


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