As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: November 23, 2012
by Alexia Severson for Healthline:
We all know exercise is good for our bodies, but new research shows that an active lifestyle can also give our brains a boost and ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
According to World Health Organization, more than 35 million people live with AD worldwide, and the prevalence of this devastating disease is expected to double by 2030. It is the most common cause of dementia and, for now, there is no cure.
The Expert Take
In this study, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Cyrus Raji, Ph.D., radiology resident at the University of California, researched the role of an active lifestyle on brain structure in patients with normal cognition and AD. Lifestyle factors he examined included: recreational sports, gardening and yard work, bicycling, dancing, and riding an exercise cycle.
Researchers used these factors, along with advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to help them understand the connection between an active lifestyle and gray matter volume, a key marker of brain health.
“Larger gray matter volume means a healthier brain. Shrinking volume is seen in Alzheimer’s disease,” Raji said.
During their research, the team found a strong association between energy output and gray matter volumes in areas of the brain crucial for cognitive function. For example, greater caloric expenditure was related to larger gray matter volumes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes, including the hippocampus, posterior cingulate, and basal ganglia. They also found a link between high energy output and greater gray matter volume in patients with mild cognitive impairment and AD.
According to Raji, gray matter is made up of neurons that facilitate cognition and higher order cognitive processes. The areas of the brain that benefit from an active lifestyle are the ones that consume the most energy and are most sensitive to damage.
“What struck me most about the study results is that it is not one, but a combination of lifestyle choices and activities that benefit the brain,” Raji said.
The positive influence of an active lifestyle on the brain may be due to improved vascular health, Raji said.
Source and Method
Researchers examined how an active lifestyle influenced brain structure in 876 adults, with an average age of 78, drawn from the multi-site Cardiovascular Health Study. The patients’ mental conditions ranged from normal cognition to Alzheimer’s disease.
MRI scanning and a technique called voxel-based morphometry, an advanced method that allows a computer to analyze an MRI image, were used to model the relationships between energy output and gray matter volume. Researchers controlled for age, head size, cognitive impairment, gender, body mass index, education, study site location, and white matter disease.
This research not only gives patients yet another reason to stay active, it also helps us to better understand the relationship between our bodies and our brains. The more we know about AD and ways in which it can be alleviated, the better doctors are able to treat patients with AD and the closer we are to finding a cure.
In a study published in The Lancet Neurology in 2005, researchers investigated the association between leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the development of AD. They found that leisure-time physical activity at midlife decreases the risk of AD later in life, and also delays the onset of AD in genetically susceptible individuals.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2002, focused on the association between social interaction and the risk of developing AD. Researchers in this study found that “stimulating activity, either mentally or socially oriented, may protect against dementia, indicating that both social interaction and intellectual stimulation may be relevant to preserving mental functioning in the elderly.”
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2005 also concluded that exercise may work as a simple intervention during the onset or progression of AD.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between persistent memory loss and so-called “senior moments,” which could be the excuse your mom leans on to blame or hide her growing cognitive deficits. Your mom’s memory problems...
New research has found that the images on a person’s Instagram can indicate whether they’re suffering from depression. The study – published in the journal EPJ Data Science – examined 43,950 photos taken from the feeds of...
The diagnosis of dementia is increasingly presenting doctors and patients with a psychological problem. At research centers like the University of Pennsylvania, new diagnostic science means patients can now learn that they have Alzheimer’s...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.