New research shows that if you want to protect your brain as you age, even a moderate among of exercise goes a long way.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have shown that brain networks improve in older people after exercise. This research is yet further evidence in favour of the ancient wisdom, “A sound mind in a sound body”.
Exercise protects the human brain
The study, published in Sport Sciences for Health, tracked the physical activity and fitness of 51 older adults. The participants also performed tests that are specifically used to measure cognitive functioning, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Each participant wore a device that measured the intensity of the wearer’s physical activity, number of steps taken and distance covered. Their fitness was assessed through a walking test, during which participants tried to walk the furthest distance they could within a six-minute time frame.
“We’ve always been told it’s good to exercise, but I think this is some evidence that exercise can actually change your brain,” reports Marissa Gogniat, lead author of the study.
“And that impacts the way you’re able to function in your daily life.”
The study clearly showed that even moderate exercise improves the functioning of brain networks.
The brain is made up of a number of distinct networks which are in constant communication, with one another. These networks are the key to being able to perform basic tasks in daily life, such as remembering important information and exhibiting self-control. But as people age, these tasks often become more difficult.
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The new study, published in the journal Life Sciences, is yet further evidence of the dreadful toll these miniscule pieces of plastic — which are more or less everywhere you care to look in the modern world — are having.
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The results are unequivocal: microplastics accumulate in the reproductive organs of mammals where they cause pervasive reproductive damage.
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Different parts of the brain are active at different times. The network that is active when the body is at rest, for example, switches off when a person starts trying to complete a task, and another network comes online.
When one of these networks is active, the others should be shut off. If it’s not, that’s a sign that the brain isn’t working as well as it should be.
This study was the first to examine how these networks interact with physical activity and fitness to impact how the brain functions.
“This paper is exciting because it gives us some evidence that when people whose brain networks aren’t functioning optimally engage in physical activity, we see improvement in their executive function and their independence,” Gogniat said. “We’re not saying you need to radically change your life.
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