How exercise prevents dementia – sciencedaily



Numerous studies have shown that physical exercise appears to be beneficial in preventing cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly. Today, researchers at Goethe University in Frankfurt explored in one of the world’s first studies how exercise affects brain metabolism.

In order to advance the current state of knowledge on the positive influence of physical activity on the brain, gerontologists and sports physicians from Goethe University in Frankfurt have examined the effects of regular exercise on metabolism. brain and memory of 60 participants aged 65 to 85 in a randomized controlled trial. Their conclusion: Regular physical exercise not only improves physical fitness, but also has a positive impact on brain metabolism.

As the researchers report in the current issue of the medical journal Translational Psychiatry, they took an in-depth look at all participants in the Sport and Metabolism in Older Persons, an MRT Study (SMART) by evaluating parameters related to movement, cardiopulmonary fitness and cognitive performance. Additionally, magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) have been used to measure brain metabolism and structure. Following this exam, participants rode an exercise bike three times a week over a 12-week period. The 30-minute training sessions were individually tailored to the performance level of each participant. Participants were re-examined after completing the program to document the effects of this physical activity on brain metabolism, cognitive performance, and brain structure. The researchers also looked at the extent to which exercise led to an improvement in the fitness of the participants. The study was carried out by the Department of Gerontology of the Institute of General Medicine (headed by Professor Johannes Pantel) and the Department of Sports Medicine (headed by Professor Winfried Banzer).

As expected, physical activity influenced brain metabolism: it prevented an increase in choline. The concentration of this metabolite often increases due to the increased loss of nerve cells, which usually occurs in Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise led to stable brain choline concentrations in the training group, while choline levels increased in the control group. The physical condition of the participants also improved: they showed increased cardiac efficiency after the training period. Overall, these results suggest that physical exercise not only improves fitness, but also protects cells.

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