Regular Aerobic Exercise in Midlife Protects the Aging Brain

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In recent years, countless studies have identified extensive neuroprotective benefits associated with aerobic exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the aging brain. Previous research has found that older adults who exercise regularly have increased brain volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum, perform better on memory tasks, and have a lower risk of dementia when compared to older, sedentary adults with low cardiorespiratory fitness.

Today, at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017, researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) presented more cutting-edge empirical evidence illustrating unique ways that regular aerobic exercise during middle age can protect the aging brain.

Regular aerobic exercise during midlife appears to lessen the severity of a stroke in older age by improving collateral circulation, according to the latest findings from a study on mice by James Faber and Wojciech Rzechorzek of UNC. (Collateral circulation is a process by which normally closed arteries open up and begin to reroute blood flow to parts of the heart when a coronary artery is blocked, or to a part of the brain when a cerebral artery is blocked.)

2017 Stroke Statistics At-a-Glance (From the American Stroke Association)

  • Someone in the US has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the US.
  • Stroke accounts for 1 of every 20 deaths in the…

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