AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018

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Everyday Activities Associated with More Gray Matter in Brains of Older Adults

Study measured amount of lifestyle physical activity such as house work, dog walking and gardening

 

Higher levels of lifestyle physical activity – such as house cleaning, walking a dog and gardening, as well as exercise – are associated with more gray matter in the brains of older adults, according to a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center. 

The gray matter in the brain includes regions responsible for controlling muscle movement, experiencing the senses, thinking and feeling, memory and speech and more. The volume of gray matter is a measure of brain health, but the amount of gray matter in the brain often begins to decrease in late adulthood, even before symptoms of cognitive dysfunction appear.

“More gray matter is associated with better cognitive function, while decreases in gray matter are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias,” said Shannon Halloway, PhD, the lead author of the Journal of Gerontology paper and the Kellogg/Golden Lamp Society Postdoctoral Fellow in the Rush University College of Nursing. “A healthy lifestyle, such as participating in lifestyle physical activity, is beneficial for brain health, and may help lessen gray matter atrophy (decreases).” 

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