Looking for a new workout buddy? Go no further than the local nursing home— new research shows that regular moderate to intense exercise could keep older peoples’ brains in tip-top shape.

What's the Deal?

Brain Power The study shows that older people who regularly exercise at a moderate or intense level may be less likely to experience "silent strokes," or small brain lesions that can lead to more advance brain diseases Lower prevalence of silent brain infarcts in the physically active: The Northern Manhattan Study. Willey, JZ., Moon, YP., Paik, MC., et al. Neurology June 8, 2011. . And just because these strokes are "silent" doesn’t detract from their serious nature— they have been linked to increased risk of falls and reduced mobility, memory issues, dementia, and even stroke.

Is It Legit?

The study looked at a group of about 1,200 people who had never had a stroke. Over a period of 6 years, researchers found that those who exercised at a moderate to intense level (think: cycling, swimming, jogging, intense bingo-ing) were 40% less likely to have silent strokes than those who did no exercise at all, even when taking into account other risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels Lower prevalence of silent brain infarcts in the physically active: The Northern Manhattan Study. Willey, JZ., Moon, YP., Paik, MC., et al. Neurology June 8, 2011. . So consider not only convincing grandpa to go for a swim, but also joining in his water aerobics class for a personal head start as well.

The Takeaway

A little exercise never hurt anyone— and new research shows that it can actually protect you from stroke-like brain damage.

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