Exercise may outperform puzzles in preventing brain shrinkage

October 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so here at AmeriCare Georgia we are doing everything we can to spread a little extra Alzheimer’s awareness to our clients, caregivers, and other aging loved ones around Georgia.

Earlier in October, Ryan Jaslow from CBS News wrote a great article on recent research that shows exercise may outperform puzzles in preventing brain shrinkage. Because brain shrinkage has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, we thought this would be a great article to start November off with.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland examined 638 Scots who were born in 1936. At 73-years-old, they were all given MRI scans to measure and record the volume of their brains. Along with MRIs, participants were asked details about their exercise habits- ranging from light household chores to heavier exercise or competitive sports- and were also asked about social or mentally-stimulating activities such as puzzles.

After three years, each participant received another MRI that showed those who engaged in more physical activity (for the past three years) experienced significantly less brain shrinkage than those who did not participate in habitual physical activity.

Additionally, the researchers could not find significant amount of benefit to those who frequently participated in mentally and socially stimulating activities on brain size throughout the three years. This study was published in the Oct. 23 issue of Neurology.

Of course, keeping your brain active by reading, writing, and completing crossword puzzles is always beneficial for overall health, but this research implies us to lean towards habitual light physical activity (even cooking and cleaning) to assist in declining chances of Alzheimer symptoms. 

In addition to this article, the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia also puts a few common Alzheimer’s myths to rest:

Myth 1: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots/pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have failed to confirm 1960s and 1970s suspicion that everyday exposure to aluminum increased chances of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Myth 2: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

A Nov. 27, 2001, Canadian Medical Journal report by Rene Verreault, Danielle Laurin, Joan Lindsay, and Gaston De Serres suggest older adults who were vaccinated against influenza seemed to actually have a lower risk of developed Alzheimer’s. See the full report here!

Myth 3: Aspartame causes memory loss.

According to the FDA, as of May 2006, the agency had not been presented with any evidence that would lead people to believe aspartame caused Alzheimer’s. The agency says its conclusions are based on more than 100 studies. 


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Save your brain! Can napping improve memory?

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