In the March 2015 edition of the journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers showed the direct effects of physical activity on the body and brain using identical twins as each other’s test and control groups. This extensive study selected 10 pairs of twins who had similar exercise patterns for more than 15 years, and for the last three years, one twin took an active path (more than twice per week) and the other took an inactive one (less than twice per month). Extensive measurements involving metabolic health, body composition and brain MRI’s were taken, and the results, although not surprising, do help to secure the argument that physical activity is good for both our brains and our bodies…
The results showed that the active twins had lower body fat percentages, more endurance and a greater ability to balance blood sugar. Even more impressive was the increase in gray matter volumes in the subgyral and inferior frontal gyrus. These two areas in the brain are associated with movement, coordination and executive function (decision making).
Now the sample size was small, but only because of the rigorous inclusion criteria. Out of 4183 twin individuals, only 10 pairs were chosen for the study. For us, this evidence doesn’t warrant a larger study, but rather just furthers the growing research of positive changes to the brain and body through increased physical activity.
For more information about exercise and how it can benefit your healthspan specifically, ask one of our doctors during your next appointment.