Why exercising prevents the brain from shrinking

  • Guillermo Lopez Lluch
  • The Conversation*

Illustration of a brain running on the treadmill

Credit, Getty Images

photo caption,

Scientific evidence proves there are many benefits of physical activity on mental abilities

“Mens sana in corpore sano” (“A healthy mind in a healthy body”). We often use this Latin quote to emphasize the beneficial effect of physical activity on mental abilities.

In fact, the phrase appeared in Satire X written by the Roman comedian Juvenal in the 2nd century and was longer: it indicated that one had to pray in order to have a healthy spirit in a healthy body (“orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano”).

But is it true that keeping the body healthy, balanced and exercised helps maintain our brain’s mental capabilities? Yes, and there’s a lot of scientific evidence to prove it, especially when it comes to aging.

The brain loses volume during aging

As we age, tissues and organs degenerate. The ability to maintain the functionality of the cells diminishes and there is a loss of tissue. This also occurs in the brain, with the consequent neurodegeneration or loss of neurons.

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