In the study, which was published in the Journal for Alzheimer's Disease, the team suggested that cardiorespiratory health can help boost the quality of white matter in the brain, which can help improve the brain function of people with mild cognitive impairment.
"This research supports the hypothesis that improving people's fitness may improve their brain health and slow down the aging process," explained Dr. Kan Ding, one of the authors of the study.
Researchers primarily focused on brain tissue called white matter – a substance made up of millions of bundled nerve fibers that are used neurons to send signals to one another. For the study, researchers tapped older patients who exhibited mild cognitive impairment such as memory loss, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The condition is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the most common form of dementia. While estimates vary, at least five million people may have Alzheimer's disease in the country. Like other forms of dementia, the telltale signs of Alzheimer's involve the breakdown of cognitive function – which can result in memory loss, confusion, and difficulty in completing tasks.
For the study, researchers involved 81 participants for the trials, which included people with normal brain function and those that displayed mild cognitive impairment. They evaluated an individual's cardiorespiratory fitness with a formula called maximal oxygen uptake, and brain imaging was utilized to study the functionality of white matter in each participant. Moreover, memory and cognitive tests were provided to evaluate brain function. This was done so that researchers can study the link between exercise, brain health, and cognition.
Researchers then concluded that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are linked with better white matter integrity, which is connected to improved brain function. According to the findings, maximum oxygen uptake positively affected the quality of white matter fiber.
While the current results of the study build on previous research done by the team on Alzheimer's, the authors admit that a lot of variables remain to unlock the mysteries of the neurodegenerative condition.
"A lot of work remains to better understand and treat dementia," Dr. Ding concluded. "But, eventually, the hope is that our studies will convince people to exercise more."
Meanwhile, it's important to make older adults know that slower metabolism and the onset of age is no excuse to skip exercise. Simple chores like gardening, washing the dishes and wiping pieces of furniture clean help since they require movement. Playing with children, going for a brisk walk, and taking the dog out for a stroll around the block are forms of exercise.
However, consider the following factors when you exercise:
In his age of advanced science, more and more seniors can enjoy their advanced years by preserving their physical, emotional and mental health. Seniors possess the wisdom that comes with experience. So their children and grandchildren will benefit a lot from their continued presence in their lives.
It would do well for the family to keep their seniors healthy and strong through the years.