Exercise may keep your brain 10 years younger

 29 Mar 2016 - 10:34

Exercise may keep your brain 10 years younger

 

Washington: Elderly people who are physically active seem to be able to stave off memory loss but only if they start exercising before symptoms appear.
At the end of a five-year period, the brains of non-exercisers look 10 years older than those who did moderate exercise. That's what Clinton Wright at the University of Miami in Florida and his colleagues found when they followed 876 people, starting at an average age of 71, for five years.
At the start of the study, each participant underwent a number of memory and cognition tests, and had the health of their brain assessed during an MRI scan. Each person was also asked how much exercise they had done in recent weeks, ranging from "no/light", such as walking or gardening, to "moderate/heavy", which included running and swimming.
Five years later, the volunteers were called back to repeat all the tests. The participants generally performed less well than they had five years earlier. But their scores were linked to their level of exercise – those who reported no or low levels of exercise scored lower in all tests, the team found.
The 10 % of people who said they had been engaged in moderate-to-heavy exercise not only started with higher scores in the first round of tests, but showed less of a decline five years later .
Those who did little or no exercise also seemed to have worse vascular health – they had higher blood pressure, and their MRI scans showed evidence of undetected strokes.
Statistically, this MRI data appears to account for the link between exercise and cognitive functioning, suggesting that physical activity is beneficial for the brain because it improves vascular health, for example, by lowering blood pressure.
While moderate-to-heavy exercise seems to stave off decline in cognitive processing – the time it takes a person to process an idea or come up with an answer – the results show that such physical activity can only delay memory loss if people begin exercising before the onset of symptoms.

QNA