IF YOU'RE looking for an excuse to avoid the gym or even going for a run around the block - don't!
Research published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, has shown that exercise helps to keep the mind sharp and could even take 10 years off your mind age.
The study, which examined health data on almost 900 adults with an average age of 71, found that those people who did light to no exercise experienced a cognitive decline equal to 10 more years of aging, when compared to people who participated in moderate to intense exercise.
The study's author, Clinton Wright from the University of Miami, said: "Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer."
As part of the study, participants completed a questionnaire about how long and how often they exercised during the two weeks prior.
An average of seven years later, participants were given tests of memory and thinking skills and a brain MRI, and five years after that they took the memory and thinking tests again.
Of the study group, 90% reported light exercise, such as walking and yoga, or no exercise at all. The remaining 10% reported moderate to high intensity exercise, such as running, aerobics, or calisthenics.
The researchers found that of those people who had no signs of memory and thinking problems after the first round of tests, those who reported low activity levels showed a greater decline over five years than their high activity counterparts.
The difference was equal to that of 10 years of aging.
The difference also remained after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain health, such as smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and body mass index.
"Physical activity is an attractive option to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment in public health because it is low cost and doesn't interfere with medications," said Wright.
"Our results suggest that moderate to intense exercise may help older people delay aging of the brain, but more research from randomized clinical trials comparing exercise programs to more sedentary activity is needed to confirm these results."