Poor physical fitness in middle age may be linked to a smaller brain size 20 years later, according to a study published in the February 10, 2016, online issue ofNeurology®, the medical journal of 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, PhD, with Bin Boston.
For the study, 1,583 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, with an average age of 40 and without dementia or heart disease, took a treadmill test. They took another one two decades later, along with MRI brain scans. The researchers also analyzed the results when they excluded participants who developed heart disease or started taking beta blockers to control blood pressure or heart problems; this group had 1,094 people.