15 December 2023
Providence Saint John’s Pacific Neuroscience Institute brain health experts among research team
Santa Monica, CA – A fascinating link between regular exercise and better brain health has been revealed, according to an international study that included a team of clinical researchers from Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Brain Health Center, located at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
The research, detailed in the paper "Exercise-Related Physical Activity Relates to Brain Volumes in 10,125 Individuals," was published this week in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and shows being physically active is related to increased size of brain areas important for memory and learning.
The study looked at MRI brain scans from 10,125 people done at Prenuvo imaging centers, a key collaborator in the research. It found those who regularly engaged in physical activities such as walking, running or sports had larger brain volumes in key areas. This includes the gray matter, which helps with processing information, and the white matter, which connects different brain regions, as well as the hippocampus, important for memory.
Cyrus A. Raji, M.D., the lead researcher, explains the findings in simple terms: "Our research supports earlier studies that show being physically active is good for your brain. Exercise not only lowers the risk of dementia but also helps in maintaining brain size, which is crucial as we age."
David Merrill, M.D., study co-author and director of the PBHC noted, "We found that even moderate levels of physical activity, such as taking fewer than 4,000 steps a day, can have a positive effect on brain health. This is much less than the often-suggested 10,000 steps, making it a more achievable goal for many people."
Study co-author Somayeh Meysami, M.D., assistant professor of neurosciences at Saint John’s Cancer Institute and the Pacific Brain Health Center noted, “Our research links regular physical activity to larger brain volumes, suggesting neuroprotective benefits. This large sample study furthers our understanding of lifestyle factors in brain health and dementia prevention.”
A Lancet Study in 2020 found about a dozen modifiable risk factors increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease, including physical activity. This work builds upon previous work by this group, linking caloric burn from leisure activities to improved brain structure.
"This study demonstrates the influence of exercise on brain health imaging and when added to other studies on the role of diet, stress reduction and social connection offer the proven benefits of drug-free modifiable factors in substantially reducing Alzheimer's disease," said George Perry, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
“With comprehensive imaging scans, our study underscores the interconnected synergy between the body and the brain. It echoes the knowledge of past generations, showcasing that increased physical activity is a predictor of a healthier aging brain," said Dr. Attariwala, senior author of this paper.
This research highlights an easy way to keep our brains healthy: stay active! Whether it's a daily walk or a favorite sport, regular physical activity can have lasting benefits for our brain health.
Contact for More Information:
To learn more about this study, please contact Patricia Aidem at Patricia.Aidem@Providence.org.
Notes for Editor:
"Exercise-Related Physical Activity Relates to Brain Volumes in 10,125 Individuals"
Authors: Raji, Cyrus A. | Meysami, Somayeh | Hashemi, Sam | Garg, Saurabh | Akbari, Nasrin | Ahmed, Gouda | Chodakiewitz, Yosef Gavriel | Nguyen, Thanh Duc | Niotis, Kellyann | Merrill, David A. | Attariwala, Rajpaule
Scheduled for Volume (97), Issue (2) (final publication on January 16, 2024)
About the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Now in its 26th year of publication, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment, and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease, and clinical trial outcomes. JAD has a Journal Impact Factor of 4 according to Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate, 2023). The journal is published by IOS Press. www.j-alz.com.
About IOS Press
IOS Press is an international scientific, technical, medical (STM) publishing house established in 1987 in Amsterdam. We produce around 100 journals and 70 books annually in a broad range of subject categories, primarily specializing in health and life sciences (including neurosciences, medical informatics, cancer research, and rehabilitation) and computer sciences (including artificial intelligence, data science, and semantic web). In addition, we offer specialized services that support scientific advancement. www.iospress.com.
About Providence Southern California
Providence Southern California is Southern California’s largest health system with 11 hospitals, more than 100 clinics, outpatient centers, TrinityCare Hospice and its TrinityKids Care pediatric hospice, Providence High School, home health care services, eight wellness centers, telehealth and numerous physician groups in its Southern California Region. Providence is committed to an enduring mission of outreach to the poor and vulnerable, and last year contributed $485 million in services, programs and charity care to those in need.