Part of my job as a nutritional counsellor is to keep up to date with the latest research in a number of areas including how exercise impacts the body. It has long established that regular exercise is healthy for the brain and this study supports that.
Could the initiation of a simple walking exercise program help older adults to reverse declines in key brain regions? A new study led by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers adds more information about how physical activity impacts brain physiology and offers hope that it may be possible to reestablish some protective neuronal connections. Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology, and colleagues explored how a 12-week walking intervention with older adults, ages 60-88, affected functionality of a brain region known to show declines in people suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease.
An extract from the article.
Dr. Smith’s research team recruited two groups — one with 16 healthy elders and another with 16 elders diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment to participate in an exercise intervention that included walking for 30 minutes, four times a week (at 50-60 % of heart rate reserve) for three months.
Before and after the exercise intervention, participants in both groups underwent fMRI brain scans to assess functional connectivity between multiple brain regions and the PCC/precuneus. After completing the intervention, both groups showed improved ability to remember a list of words; however only the MCI group showed increased connectivity to the PCC/precuneus hub, which was evident in 10 regions spanning the frontal, parietal, temporal and insular lobes, and the cerebellum.
“These findings suggest that the protective effects of exercise training on cognition may be realized by the brain re-establishing communication and connections among the brain’s so-called default mode network, which may possibly increase the capacity to compensate for the neural pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Smith.
Source of the article: University of Maryland. “Exercise study offers hope in fight against Alzheimer’s: Walking intervention improved neural connectivity in older adults with MCI.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170503213532.htm
You will find all the other posts on the Marathon challenge in this directory covering preparation, breathing exercises and foods to support you:.