Keeping fit during middle-age can help to maintain the health of the brain into later life, according to a new study.
Researchers at Boston University analysed data from more than 1,200 adults who took part in treadmill exercises during the 1970s, when their average age was 41.
Later, when their average age was 60, these individuals underwent MRI brain scans and completed mental performance tests.
It was discovered that those who had lower fitness levels had smaller brain volumes later in life, while those with large increases in diastolic blood pressure - the lower of the two figures in a blood pressure reading - were found to lose mental sharpness.
The study's lead author, Dr Nicole Spartano, said small blood vessels in the brain can be damaged by fluctuations in blood pressure.
"Vascular damage in the brain can contribute to structural changes and cognitive losses," she added.
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