SANANTONIO -- A new study has some encouraging results concerning exercise. Not only is physical activity good for your heart and helpful in controlling weight. It also helps stave off Alzheimer s disease.

At age 78, San Antonian Ed Rapier is in great shape. That s not by accident. He s made a conscious decision to weave exercise into his daily life. He walks at least three miles a day and plays golf several times a week.

You should work out, Rapier said. I think you feel better. I think your mind works better. I think it s a proven fact your mind works better if you work out.

A new study published in the journal Neurology showed that intuitive thinking is right. 700 people with an average age of 82 were followed for five years. The results showed a link between physical activity and preserving brain function.

What they found out was that in the people who were the most active, their risk of getting Alzheimer s disease was about half of what the rest of the cohort was, explained Dr. Michael Lichtenstein, a UT Medicine geriatrician.

The numbers were significant. Those with the highest levels of activity ran a risk of developing Alzheimer s of about 8 percent. Those with the lowest levels ran a risk of about 18 percent.

There are lots of very positive aspects of physical activity, Lichtenstein stated. This just adds another piece of evidence to that.

The biology behind the link isn t well understood. It may have to do with better blood flow, increased metabolism or less inflammation. Whatever the reason, it s just one more way we can all take better care of ourselves and our future brain health.

I think a guy would be an idiot if he didn t do it, Rapier added.

As a geriatrician, I want people to stay as active as possible for as long as possible, Lichtenstein emphasized.

The study looked at all forms of activity, not just formal exercise. It showed keeping active all day, not just at the gym, is important for your brain.

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