Staying Fit in Middle Age Slows Down Brain Aging

May 24, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. middle age / ˈmɪd l eɪdʒ / (n.) – a period during which a person is 40 to 60 years old
Example: She is not ready to be of middle age.

2. cognition /kɒgˈnɪʃ ən / (n.) – the process of knowing, understanding, learning, and remembering
Example: Drinking too much alcohol may affect one’s cognition.

3. strive /straɪv / (v.) – to push oneself to do something
ExampleHe should strive to work out if he wishes to lose weight.

4. prevent /prɪˈvɛnt / (v.) – to stop something from occurring or happening
Example: Eating a balanced meal may prevent sickness.

5. shrink / ʃrɪŋk / (v.) – to decrease in size
Example: People may lose their memory if their brains shrink rapidly.


Read the text below.
A study finds that staying fit in one’s middle age helps in slowing down one’s brain aging.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine looked into the records of 1,271 participants from the Framingham [FREY-ming-ham] Offspring Study. In the 1970s, all participants who were in their early 40s underwent a treadmill test. When the participants reached the average age of 60, they went through MRI brain scans and cognitive tests.

The researchers found that the participants with lower fitness level had higher blood pressure and faster heart rate even after a low level of exercise. They also appeared to have smaller brain tissue volume when they got older. In their 60s, the same participants also performed worse on the cognitive test.

Researchers acknowledged that staying fit can help prevent brain aging among the elderly. However, the study did not determine if midlife fitness can also have positive effects on cognition long after middle age.

Nicole Spartano, author of the study, suggests that people should strive for exercise that will get the heart pumping daily. People can do so by doing aerobic exercises such as walking and climbing up the stairs.

Participating in social activities may also help maintain the elderly’s cognitive skills. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found in their study that activities like working in teams and with young people can help prevent the brain from shrinking. This has been proven true after the researchers observed the participants of the Baltimore Experience Corps, a program that encourages senior citizens to mentor children in public schools.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  
Discussion A

·         Did this article encourage you to start or continue exercising? Why or why not?
·         How else can people maintain healthy cognition?

Discussion B

·         What else can be the advantages of staying fit?
·         Aside from exercising, what else can people do to stay fit?

May 24, 2015