According to a new study reported on LiveScience, damage in the brain’s white matter was linked to heavy drinking and found to be much more common in those who rarely exercise.
White matter forms the cables that link various parts of the brain. When white matter is damaged, it’s more difficult for the brain to communicate information efficiently.
Researchers looked at 60 people, scanning their brains and asking them questions about alcohol consumption and exercise regimens. Habits varied widely, from no drinks to 300 drinks in a two month period. And from no exercise at all, to 420 minutes per week over a three month period.
This doesn’t mean that you can drink excessively and expect to repair the damage through exercise because alcohol also does damage to the body’s organs. More research is still needed to figure out why this happens.
Exercise and Brain Shrinkage
When you exercise the brain is better able to resist shrinkage. Exercise seems to slow the brain’s decay because just like other organs, it is made up of tissues that diminish with underuse and age. Exercise also seems to jumpstart the brain’s ability to make new cells.
The Washington Post, analyzed data from 691 adults in their early seventies and found that exercise may be just as important for mental maintenance as social interaction and intellectually challenging activities. MRI scans showed less shrinkage in the brains of those that exercised regularly. Atrophy was the most noticeable in elderly men that did not exercise.
When it comes to keeping your brain healthy, exercise is as good for your brain as it is for your body. This isn't to say that every time you overdo it with cocktails, exercise can equalize the damage, but if once in a blue moon you overdo it, sweating it out may be your best bet.
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