Exercise training alters brain blood flow and improves cognitive performance in older adults, though not in the way you might think. A new study published by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that exercise was associated with improved brain function in a group of adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and a decrease in the blood flow in key brain regions.
“A reduction in blood flow may seem a little contrary to what you would assume happens after going on an exercise program,” explained Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “But after 12-weeks of exercise, adults with MCI experienced decreases in cerebral blood flow. They simultaneously improved significantly in their scores on cognitive tests.”
Dr. Smith explains that for those beginning to experience subtle memory loss, the brain is in “crisis mode” and may try to compensate for the inability to function optimally by increasing cerebral blood flow. While elevated cerebral blood flow is usually considered beneficial to brain function, there is evidence to suggest it may actually be a harbinger of further memory loss in those diagnosed with MCI. The results of the study by Dr. Smith and his team suggest exercise may have the potential to reduce this compensatory blood flow and improve cognitive efficiency in those in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Exercise is a vital element of a healthful lifestyle; it helps maintain heart health, improve mood, and fight weight gain. New research also suggests that it can protect a person’s cognitive skills, and a new study uncovers fresh information as to how this can happen.
According to a study covered on Medical News Today last year, engaging in regular, leisurely exercise can help keep the body young and healthy.
The same appears to be true for the relationship between exercise and the mind; only 10 minutes of physical activity may boost cognitive function in the short-term.
Meanwhile, exercising regularly for 6 months could actually reverse the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment.
Millions of people live with high blood pressure, which can place them at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. For this condition, doctors typically prescribe blood-lowering drugs, but could exercise help just as well?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 75 millionadults in the United States have to manage high blood pressure, where it exceeds the threshold of 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
The condition can increase their risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a stroke, both of which are leading causes of death in the U.S.
Danette Lake thought surgery would relieve the pain in her knees.
The arthritis pain began as a dull ache in her early 40s, brought on largely by the pressure of unwanted weight. Lake managed to lose 200 pounds through dieting and exercise, but the pain in her knees persisted.
A sexual assault two years ago left Lake with physical and psychological trauma. She damaged her knees while fighting off her attacker, who had broken into her home. Although she managed to escape, her knees never recovered. At times, the sharp pain drove her to the emergency room. Lake’s job, which involved loading luggage onto airplanes, often left her in misery.
When a doctor said that knee replacement would reduce her arthritis pain by 75 percent, Lake was overjoyed.
One question that scientists and fitness experts alike would love to answer is whether exercise or nutrition has a bigger positive impact on bone strength.
University of Michigan researchers looked at mineral supplementation and exercise in mice, and found surprising results—nutrition has a greater impact on bone mass and strength than exercise. Further, even after the exercise training stopped, the mice retained bone strength gains as long as they ate a mineral-supplemented diet.
“The longer-term mineral-supplemented diet leads to not only increases in bone mass and strength, but the ability to maintain those increases even after detraining,” said David Kohn, a U-M professor in the schools of dentistry and engineering. “This was done in mice, but if you think about the progression to humans, diet is easier for someone to carry on as they get older and stop exercising, rather than the continuation of exercise itself.”
Exercise is just as good for the brain as it is for the body, a growing body of research is showing. And one kind in particular—aerobic exercise—appears to be king.
“Back in the day, the majority of exercise studies focused on the parts of the body from the neck down, like the heart and lungs,” says Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “But now we are finding that we need to go north, to the brain, to show the true benefits of a physically active lifestyle on an individual.”
Exercise might be a simple way for people to cut down their risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, even for those who are genetically at risk for the disease. In a June study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Okonkwo followed 93 adults who had at least one parent with Alzheimer’s disease, at least one gene linked to Alzheimer’s, or both. People in the study who spent at least 68 minutes a day doing moderate physical activity had better glucose metabolism—which signals a healthy brain—compared to people who did less.
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, according to new research.
The research team found that although exercise improved physical fitness, it cannot be recommended as a treatment option for cognitive impairment in dementia.
Nearly 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia and the view that exercise might slow cognitive decline has widespread popularity.
But recent reviews of trials of exercise training in people with dementia show conflicting results. To try and resolve the uncertainty, researchers decided to estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training program on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with dementia.
Incorporating structured exercise into supportive care can help improve the lives of patients with advanced cancer, say researchers in an article e-published ahead of print in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In an analysis of previous studies, authors found that both aerobic exercise and resistance training improved many cancer side effects.
Authors evaluated 25 studies, for a total of 1,188 participants, that measured the efficacy of exercise interventions on physical function, quality of life, fatigue, body composition, psychosocial function, sleep quality, pain, and survival. All studies used more than 1 session of structured exercise as the primary intervention and specified the “frequency, intensity, time, or type” of exercise. More than 80% of participants in each study had been diagnosed with “advanced cancer that is unlikely to be cured.” Some studies used control groups, and some did not.
Canada’s longest-lived seniors tend to have parents who live at least nine years longer than average and that’s a lot, according to Angela Brooks-Wilson, who runs a 16-year healthy aging study at Simon Fraser University.
But lifestyle always plays a bigger role in how long you live, she said.
If you want to live to 85 and longer, it helps to stay busy.
Study participant Ivan Vance — just 90 years old — hits the gym and the courts at the Jericho Tennis Club about four times a week and really pushes himself. After the gym, he hits serves for an hour or more.