One of the side effects of aging is the risk of dementia. This is due the reason, as proven by studies, that the volume of brain shrinks by 0.2% in most adults every year after they reach age 60.
According to recent studies, physical activity can be an antidote to dementia. It is found that exercising regularly can help reduce this risk significantly, for it promotes neuroplasticity, the ability of brain to reshape itself. In other words, physical activities help keep the brain young.
The question is about the quantum of physical activity required to prevent degeneration of brain cells. Experts advise 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. However, many people, especially elderly ones, may find it difficult to take up vigorous exercise due to health issues.
Now a new study by researchers at Boston University suggests even light physical activity like housework for a couple of minutes can reduce the aging of brain by 1.1 year.
The findings published in the journal, Jama Network Open, do not dismiss the need for moderate to vigorous exercise, the benefits of which have already been established. But those who are unable to exert themselves with the required intensity or duration can benefit from every bit of exercising, even if it is light physical activity.
The findings are based on the data of 2,354 participants in a walking experiment, conducted at the Framingham Heart Study. The study found that those who walked at least 10,000 steps a day had higher volume of brain by 0.35% compared to those who took less than 5,000 steps a day. In effect brain aging in the first category was reduced by 1.75 years.
It is also found that people, who cannot meet the required level of physical activity, can reduce the aging of brain by 1.1 year with every additional hour of light-intensity physical activity.