Published on: April 27, 2015
by Medical XPress:
Cardiorespiratory fitness may positively impact the structure of white matter in the brains of older adults. These results suggest that exercise could be prescribed to lessen age-related declines in brain structure.
The findings, which appear online in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, are the first to show a relationship between fitness and barin structure in older adults, but not younger adults.
The researchers compared younger adults (age 18-31) to older adults (age 55-82). All participants had MRIs taken of their brains and their cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) fitness was measured while they exercised on a treadmill. The researchers found cardiorespiratory fitness was positively linked to the structural integrity of white matter fiber bundles in the brain in the older adults, while no such association was observed in younger adults.
“We found that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with enhanced brain structure in older adults,” explained corresponding author Scott Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and the associate director of the Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “We found that physical activities that enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, such as walking, are inexpensive, accessible and could potentially improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging independent function,” he added.
According to the researchers these results provide evidence of a positive association between fitness and brain structure in older adults. “We hope this study provides additional motivation for older adults to increase their levels of physical activity, which positively impacts health, mood, cognition and the brain.” They caution that additional research is needed to track changes in fitness and brain structure over time, as well as clarify the impact of specific exercise programs (such as strength, aerobic or combined training) or dose of exercise (frequency, intensity, duration) on white matter microstructure.
Older people who report greater levels of social engagement have more robust gray matter in regions of the brain relevant in dementia, according to new research led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of...
In a new study, University of Nebraska–Lincoln sociologist Marc A. Garcia explored how educational attainment can benefit cognitive health in later life, and whether there are differences in its benefits among minorities. Garcia and his co-authors...
A genetic variation in some people may be associated with cognitive decline that can’t be explained by deposits of two key proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid β and tau, according to a study...
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.