According to a study published in the journal Nature, exercise may help to protect against memory loss and cognitive decline in older adults. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, who found that exercise can increase levels of a protein in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
BDNF is known to play a key role in the growth and survival of neurons, which are essential for the functioning of the brain. As we age, the levels of BDNF in the brain tend to decline, leading to cognitive decline and memory loss. However, the researchers found that exercise can increase the levels of BDNF in the brain, thereby protecting against cognitive decline and memory loss.
The study involved 35 healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 88, who were randomly assigned to either a stretching and toning program or an aerobic exercise program for six months. The researchers found that those who participated in the aerobic exercise program showed significant increases in BDNF levels, as well as improvements in their cognitive function and memory.
The researchers also found that the benefits of exercise were greater for those who had higher levels of BDNF to begin with. This suggests that exercise may be most beneficial for those who are at the greatest risk of cognitive decline and memory loss due to low levels of BDNF.
The study adds to a growing body of research that suggests that exercise can have significant benefits for brain health in older adults. In addition to protecting against cognitive decline and memory loss, exercise has also been linked to a reduced risk of dementia and other age-related neurological disorders.
So, if you want to keep your brain healthy and sharp as you age, it may be time to lace up your sneakers and hit the gym. Even a moderate amount of exercise can make a big difference in maintaining cognitive function and memory in older adults.
It’s important to note that while exercise may be a valuable tool in maintaining brain health, it’s not a cure-all. Other factors, such as a healthy diet, good sleep, and social engagement, are also important for maintaining cognitive function and memory in older adults. By combining these factors, you can give your brain the best possible chance of staying healthy and sharp as you age.
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). (2021, July 29). “New Data Confirm Voluntary Exercise May Improve Thinking and Memory in Older Adults, Regardless of Previous Activity Levels”. Alzheimer’s Association.