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Study: Cycling may help keep dementia at bay

Findings suggest that cardio-respiratory exercise helps prevent brain from ageing

Cardio-respiratory exercise including cycling may help keep the brain sharper for longer into life as well as preventing people from being affected by dementia, according to new research.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University Medicine Greifswald in Germany, has been published in the journal, Mayo Clinical Proceedings.

Researchers analysed the cardio-respiratory fitness of 2,013 adults in northern Germany, split into two separate groups, between 1997 and 2012.

They measured participants’ peak oxygen uptake while pedalling an exercise bike, and also assessed the results of MRI brain scans.

Results suggest that cardio-respiratory exercise such as cycling, walking or running may build up grey matter, the cell bodies that together with filaments called white matter, make up the brain.

However, researchers cautioned that while a link between exercise and brain health had been found, it did not provide direct evidence of cause and effect, meaning more research is needed.

Ronald Petersen of the Mayo Clinic, quoted on, said: "This provides indirect evidence that aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on cognitive functioning in addition to physical benefits

"There is good evidence for the value of exercise in midlife but it is encouraging that there can be positive effects on the brain later in life as well.”

Michael Joyner, also of the Mayo Clinic, added: "This is another piece of the puzzle showing physical activity and physical fitness protects against aging-related cognitive decline."

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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