The Archives of Internal Medicine published the results of two recent studies which provide further evidence that regular exercise staves off age-related cognitive decline.
The first study was the result of analysis of data from the 1995 Women's Antioxidant Cardiac Study (WACS) wherein scientists from the Foundation of Public Health in Paris, France and Harvard University looked at the relationship between physical activity and cognition in women with cardiovascular disease.
The research team, led by Marie Noel Vercambre, observed that women whom exercised the least had the highest decline in cognitive function. In other words, older women with cardiovascular whom rarely exercised, suffered a loss in their ability to think and reason.
A second study backs up this evidence. This time scientists analyzed data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) cohort study which involved 3000 American men and women between the ages of 70 - 79 years.
This study, led by Laura E. Middleton, examined 197 people who participated in the larger Health ABC study. Middleton and her team were looking for a link between energy expenditure to self-reported physical exercise and cognitive impairment.
People who expended the greatest amount of energy also had the lowest level of cognitive loss. Put another way, people who exercised more were had stronger cognitive abilities than folks who didn't exercise.
What Do These Studies Mean To You?
The answer is simply, really: exercise helps the brain to remain alert. In fact scientists have known about this for a long time. Last March in my article "Regular Exercise Slows The Aging Process", I reported on the results of studies involving the positive effect that physical exercise had on the health of human cells.
Regular exercise slowed telomere degradation, telomeres are intricately involved in cellular health and aging. Exercise helps brain cells because it slows down the gradual loss of telomere length which occurs as a result of mitosis. When you look at the evidence from the studies mentioned in the March 2011 article as well as the two new studies which are discussed above, it becomes harder to dismiss the importance of regular physical exercise.
The Vercambre study looked at the relationship between cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. That's very significant because cardiovascular disease puts you at greater risk of dementia and other diseases that will rob you of your ability to think and reason. What Vercambre showed was that exercise is a useful method for preventing Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias.
The remarkable and amazing thing about these studies is that you don't have to participate in strenuous workouts to slow age-related mental impairment. Walking for just thirty minutes a day can do the trick.
This reminds me of the World Health Organization's suggestion of one hundred fifty minutes of aerobic exercise each week (which is just thirty minutes per day), lowers your risk of cancer and heart disease (read my article "Healthy Lifestyle May Prevent Cancer Deaths: WHO").
Well, what more evidence do you need? Just as the opening headline says "Exercise really is good for the aging brain".
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
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Vercambre, et al. Physical Activity and Cognition in Women With Vascular Conditions. Arch Intern Med. 2011; 171(14):1244-1250
Larson. Brains and Aging: Comment on "Physical Activity and Cognition in Women With Vascular Conditions" and "Activity Energy Expenditure and Incident Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults". Arch Intern Med. Published online July 19, 2011. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.273
"Dual Research Studies Show That Exercise Really Is Good For The Aging Brain" copyright © 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.