A recent journal of Gerontology article revealed medical research that showed that seniors who led more active lifestyles, including light physical activity, such as housework and dog-walking, had more gray matter. This is good news, as the brain’s grey matter has the reins to a lot of what goes on in the human body, including mobility, speech, sensing, thinking and feeling. Oftentimes, however the volume of this crucial neurological matter shrinks with age, long before cognitive impairment becomes obvious.
Participants of the study wore a device to measure their physical activity and filled out self-reports as well. MRIs showed the grey matter of participants. Controlling for various demographic differences, it was still obvious that those participants with the most active lifestyles had the least grey matter atrophy.
- Participation in lifestyle physical activity is good for the brain and may help decrease the loss of gray matter as people age.
- To more accurately measure the levels of participant’s physical activity, they were required to continuously wear an accelerometer for up to 10 days.
- Questionnaires can sometimes provide unreliable data on physical activity because subjects can tend to over-estimate or under-estimate their levels of activity.
“The volume of gray matter is a measure of brain health, but the amount of gray matter in the brain often begins to decrease in late adulthood, even before symptoms of cognitive dysfunction appear.”