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Exercise benefits your *whole* head—eye health and brain size included


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Photo: Stocksy/Jose Coello

Exercising being worth your while for a plethora of health-rich reasons is nothing new, but the list of benefits for getting active just keeps growing: According to new research, getting your blood pumping isn’t just a way to age more slowly, help prevent depression, and keep your stress in check—it also protects your brain size and vision.

Everyone wants a bigger brain, right? Well, researchers in Australia found you only need to work the smarty-pants muscle via aerobic exercise a few times a week for optimal results. In the study published in the journal NeuroImage, data showed getting sweaty not only improved participants’ memory function but also helped maintain their brain health as they aged.

“Aerobic exercise slows down the deterioration in brain size. In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain.” —study author Joseph Firth, PhD

“When you exercise, you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,” said lead study author Joseph Firth, PhD, in a press release. “Aerobic exercise slows down the deterioration in brain size. In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain.”

Furthermore, research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, showed that people who exercise at a moderate to vigorous activity level can also lower their risk of developing glaucoma—the leading cause of blindness in the US—by a whopping 73 percent.

“It is not only the act of exercising that may be associated with decreased glaucoma risk, but that people who exercise with higher speed may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps.” —Victoria L. Tseng, MD, PhD

“Our research suggests that it is not only the act of exercising that may be associated with decreased glaucoma risk, but that people who exercise with higher speed may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps,” said Victoria L. Tseng, MD, PhD, in a press release.

Obviously there are plenty of reasons to exercise on the reg, but since you now know it keeps your head screwed on straight with your eyes looking forward, fully healthy, why wait? Your fave boutique fitness class is just waiting for you to sign up.

This is the type of exercise that adds the most years to your life. And if you’re into meditation, these four celebs also swear by the soothing benefits.