Daily exercise can keep your brain sharp, two studies reveal

Two new studies presented this week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris adds to the growing body of research that exercise can help safeguard your brain. Even better news is that you don't have to become a fanatic to benefit: just a brisk, 30-minute daily walk can delay mental aging by five to seven years, researchers stated.

One study from Harvard Medical School in the US examined the connection between exercise and mental decline among some 2,800 women aged 65 and older. All of the women in the study had cardiovascular disease, which is also associated with increased risk of cognitive problems. After taking a battery of cognitive tests several times over the course of five years, the most active women substantially outperformed the least active women, according to the findings.

The second study involved 197 adults participating in US-based Health, Aging, and Body Composition longitudinal study. The participants had an average age of 75 years, and results from the five-year study showed that the most active seniors were less likely to develop cognition problems than their more sedentary counterparts.

Both studies were published online July 19 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

In addition, research published last October in the journal Neurology found that walking just 9.5 kilometers (six miles) a week may keep your brain sharper as you get older.

Walking may protect aging brains from growing smaller and, in turn, preserve memory in old age, researchers noted.

The renowned Mayo Clinic in the US also recommends staying social to help keep your brain sharp. Isolation can increase stress and depression, both of which can contribute to memory loss.

Read more tips for improving memory as you age:

Access the new research:
"Physical Activity and Cognition in Women With Vascular Conditions":

"Activity Energy Expenditure and Incident Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults":