Couch Potatoes May Have Smaller Brains Later in Life

Reason #1,337 why you need to revive that New Year’s resolution about getting fit:

Poor physical fitness in middle age may be linked to a smaller brain size 20 years later, according to a study published by the American Academy of Neurology.

“We found a direct correlation in our study between poor fitness and brain volume decades later, which indicates accelerated brain aging,” said study author Nicole Spartano.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine analyzed the results of 1,583 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, with an average age of 40 and without dementia or heart disease, who took a treadmill test.

They took another one treadmill test two decades later, along with MRI brain scans.

The study found that the less fit participants with less exercise capability — assessed by oxygen capacity, heart rate, heart rate and other measurements — had a decreased brain volume two decades later, equivalent to two years of accelerated brain aging.

Spartano noted that the study is observational. It does not prove that poor physical fitness causes a loss of brain volume; it shows the association.

“While not yet studied on a large scale, these results suggest that fitness in middle age may be particularly important for the many millions of people around the world who already have evidence of heart disease,” she said.