Even Simple Exercise May Help the Aging Brain, Study Hints

Even Simple Exercise May Help the Aging Brain, Study Hints

Maintaining a healthy body and mind via regular exercise has long been recommended by medical professionals. Although previous studies have looked at the effects of exercise on memory loss, the US government-funded study is the longest test of its kind, and it was conducted during a pandemic, which increased the dangers to participants’ brain health due to isolation.


About 300 sedentary older persons with mild cognitive impairment (a condition that is often, but not always, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease) were recruited by the researchers. One group was given aerobic workouts to do, while the other was given stretching and balancing exercises that would only moderately increase their heart rates.


Another critical factor was that trainers from several YMCAs around the nation worked with both groups, encouraging members to be active even when Covid-19 forced the closure of gyms by facilitating online video conversations.


Neuroscientist Laura Baker from Wake Forest School of Medicine, who led the study, said that after a year, both groups exhibited no significant decline in cognitive ability. And, contrary to what she had been led to believe, brain scans did not reveal the atrophy that often accompanies deteriorating memory.


The individuals with MCI in the second long-term research of brain health also showed considerable cognitive impairment over the course of a year, but only when they did not engage in physical activity.


The National Institute on Aging has advised that following non-exercisers in the same research would have provided stronger evidence than the preliminary results.


However, the findings imply that everyone, not just elders, is capable of doing this. Preventative measures for vulnerable elderly should include encouragement to engage in physical activity.

According to Maria Carrillo, chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, frequent physical exercise of any kind may decrease harmful inflammation and boost blood flow to the brain.


Carrillo noted that social isolation has long been recognized to increase people’s risk of memory issues, making this new research all the more fascinating. The epidemic struck midway through.


Dementia study is going through a tough period. Because of its hefty price tag, doctors are reluctant to administer a new medicine called Aduhelm, which was meant to be the first to halt the course of Alzheimer’s disease. In a pivotal trial, researchers this month revealed the failure of a similar medicine that also targets amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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