By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You don’t need me to tell you about the benefits of exercise. I’m sure you know it helps fight heart disease. It can help with flexibility and even make you feel better about yourself and more relaxed. But now there is a new report that walking prevents brain shrinkage and reduced mental function.

When you think of the fact that one of the major health problems in people as they get older is Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, it makes sense to do whatever you can to stay sharp.

We know we can lose brain volume as we age and a reduction in brain volume has been associated with a decline in mental function.

Four hundred people were followed for 10 years. The amount that they walked each week was measured closely. At the end of 10 years they were given mental function tests and their brains were scanned.

Those who walked 5 miles or more per week had greater brain size and better mental function compared to those less active.

Once again, this is another study showing the benefits of exercise.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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