Skip to main content
Skip to main content

WKU News

Exercise may preserve brain better than games

One of the sad realities about Alzheimer's disease is that there's no way of preventing it – at least not yet.  We know some people are genetically or biologically at greater risk than others, but researchers want to find out how we can fight it off, or at least delay it.

The strongest evidence for a lifestyle choice associated with Alzheimer's prevention is exercise.  A new study in the journal Neurology supports that, and also suggests that working out is more effective at protecting the brain than cognitive challenges such as games and puzzles.

Researchers studied a group of nearly 700 participants from Scotland, all born in 1936, who reported their leisure and physical activity levels at age 70.  They rated physical activity on a scale from "moving only in connection with necessary (household) chores" to "keep-fit/heavy exercise or competitive sport several times per week," the study said.  Participants also rated how often they engaged in various social and intellectual activities.

Then, at age 73, the scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure certain biomarkers in the brain among these participants.

It appears that people who participated in more physical activity generally showed less brain shrinkage and fewer white matter lesions, both of which can be signs of Alzheimer's disease.

Gray matter mostly consists of nerve cells, neurons, and primarily is linked with processing and cognition, according to the Alzheimer's Association.  White matter, on the other hand, is mainly composed of nerve fibers, and coordinates communication between various brain regions.

Researchers found that intellectual and social engagement weren't as helpful to the brain, although there have been hints that these also carry benefits.

The results of this study are not surprising to Heather Snyder, senior associate director for medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association, who was not involved in the study.  Physical activity helps to promote a healthy heart, and the well-being of the heart and brain are interrelated.  An unhealthy heart isn't as efficient at pumping blood, which the brain needs.

"In terms of the exact mechanism, there's a lot that we don't know," she said.

Cognitive exercises don’t hurt, but the strongest evidence from research conducted so far suggests exercise helps prevent Alzheimer's later in life, Snyder said.

As to how much exercise is optimal, what kind, or whether it's too late to start amping up physical activity after a certain age, researchers aren't sure, Snyder said.

Hints are emerging, however.  Research presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference in July suggests that strength training could be the best exercise intervention.

Among the small studies presented, one demonstrated that women between ages 70 and 80 benefited from weight-lifting, walking and balance exercises, but those who used weights showed the most improvement.  Scientists found that people who began with the highest cognitive baseline responded the best in this study.

What's needed is a long-term, large-scale study to track a lot of people over time, so that researchers can more definitively examine the benefits of different kinds of exercise, and how much and how often different activities should be done to gain the most Alzheimer's protection, Snyder said.

Source: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/23/exercise-may-preserve-brain-better-than-games/?hpt=he_bn2

Categories
All News  Now Viewing Category: All
Media Relations
President Caboni News
CEBS
CHHS News
Gordon Ford College of Business
Ogden News
PCAL
Academic Affairs
WKU Regional Campuses
Glasgow News
Etown & Fort Knox
Owensboro News
Transportation
The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky
The Center for Gifted Studies
Police
Emergency Preparedness
Facilities
Housing & Residence Life
Student Activities and Organizations
Augenstein Alumni Center
Campus Activities Board
The Confucius Institute
Cultural Enhancement Series
DELO News
Department of Music
Department of Theatre & Dance
Development and Alumni Relations
Downing Museum
Downing Student Union
Hardin Planetarium
Health Services
Human Resources News
Instruments of American Excellence
International Student Office
Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport
Library News
Math News
Office of International Programs
Office of Research
Office of Sustainability
Parent's Association
School of Journalism & Broadcasting
Student Financial Assistance
Scholarships Student Financial Assistance
Student Employment
Student Government Association News
Student Research Council
Study Abroad
Van Meter Auditorium
WellU
WKU Educational Leadership Doctoral Program News
WKU Joint Admissions
WKU Parent and Family Weekend
Latest Headlines
WKU Forensics Team competes in tournaments at Ball State

The WKU Forensics Team traveled to Muncie, Indiana, to compete in two tournaments co-hosted by Ball State University and Illinois State University the weekend of Oct. 14-15.

Bo Matthews: WKU Glasgow's Volunteer of the Year

Superintendent Bo Matthews was honored as WKU Glasgow's Volunteer of the Year on Thursday, October 12, during WKU's 2017 Summit Awards at the Augenstein Alumni Center on WKU's main campus in Bowling Green.

Katherine Crider crowned WKU Homecoming queen

Katherine Crider of Dawson Springs was crowned WKU’s 2017 Homecoming queen on Saturday (Oct. 14).

Featured Articles
Katherine Crider crowned WKU Homecoming queen

Katherine Crider of Dawson Springs was crowned WKU’s 2017 Homecoming queen on Saturday (Oct. 14).

WKU recognizes top volunteers at Summit Awards

WKU recognized its top volunteers at the annual Summit Awards. Distinguished Service Medals to recognize the service of the University’s top volunteers were presented to Julie Harris Hinson, James G. Meyer and Linda S. Miller.

Robert Reich Visits Grise Hall for a Question & Answer Session with Students

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 
 Last Modified 5/2/17