Natural remedy for brain health in old age: stay active earlier in life
A new study has found moderately vigorous physical activity is associated with better cognition 25 years later.
Alzheimer's is a dreaded disease of old age with no cure. There is therefore a keen interest in trying to prevent this form of dementia.
There is better cognition later in life with moderately vigorous physical activity when younger
In a new study it was found that it may be possible to have improved cognition later in life with a more active lifestyle earlier in life. The University of Helsinki has reported on a study of 3050 twins. It was observed that physical activity which is moderately vigorous was associated with better cognition 25 years later. Moderately vigorous physical activity would be considered to be more strenuous than simply walking.
The association between moderately vigorous physical activity at midlife with better cognition during old age was found to be statistically independent of midlife smoking, hypertension, education level, obesity, binge drinking, and sex. Researcher Paula Iso-Markku from the University of Helsinki has said it is suggested by these findings that the positive influence which physical activity has on the brain and cognition is not entirely based on lowering vascular risk factors.
The most inactive group of twins had significantly increased risk for cognitive impairment
In the study there was a comparison later in life between the twins where one of them was more physically active than the other. It was found that there were not any increased memory-protecting benefits from increasing the volume of physical activity. But a moderate amount of physical activity was observed to be sufficient for the memory-protecting benefits. There was a significantly increased risk for cognitive impairment in only the most inactive group of twins.
Professor Urho Kujala from the University of Jyväskylä says that this study shows that overall there is an association between moderately vigorous physical activity and better cognition after about 25 years. Professor Kujala has pointed out that this finding is in support of earlier animal model studies, which have demonstrsated that physical activity increases the amount of growth factors which are in the brain while also improving synaptic plasticity.
The prevalence of dementia has been found to have increased with aging populations
This study is very significant in view of the fact that the prevalence of dementia has been found to have increased with aging populations in Finland and across the world. Even though there seems to have been a decrease in the incidence of dementia in less senior populations the total prevalence of dementia is still anticipated to increase. Vascular risk factors including lack of exercise, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and diabetes have also been associated with risk for dementia.
This study has been published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The researchers observed that there was an association between vigorous midlife physical activity and less cognitive impairment later in life. Clearly a good natural remedy for brain health in old age may be to stay active earlier in life.