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Published in the journal Neurology, researchers found a correlation between physical activity and brain damage that may limit physical mobility. The data reviewed indicated that more physically active individuals have increased mobility and generally higher levels of motor function. Though this information is preliminary, there is great value in understanding the benefits of exercise in the aging process.
Upon review of over 160 patients over the age of 80, it was found that age related brain damage could be limited by physical activity. During the aging process, especially for those affected by dementia, small areas of the brain can be damaged. These affected areas can be found in MRI scans and are called white matter hyperintensities. These areas of damage can hinder mobility and affect other motor skills. Over the course of the study, researchers tracked physical movement through worn exercise monitors and compared the MRI scans of patients. What these researchers found was that physical activity seemed to arrest the development of the white matter hyperintensities which helped to ward off further degradation.
This knowledge helps to reinforce a more commonly held belief that much of the aging process, including common chronic conditions, can be greatly influenced by physical activity. Treatment plans for aging individuals and those affected by chronic medical conditions will likely include exercise regimens. Researchers also strongly pointed out that the physical activity does not necessarily need to be high intensity, but a good brisk walk daily would go a long way towards overall wellness.