Numerous studies have shown so far that physical exercise seems to have a positive effect in the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia in old age. Now a global investigation has deepened in the subject to explore how exercise affects the metabolism of the brain and get that positive effect.
To do this, a team composed of gerontologists and sports doctors has examined the effect of regular exercise on brain metabolism and memory of 60 people between 65 and 85 years, randomly chosen in a clinical trial. With the chosen participants, they examined them carefully establishing parameters related to movement, cardiopulmonary health and cognitive performance.
In addition, magnetic resonance tomography (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (ERM), two different medical imaging techniques, were used to analyze the metabolism and structure of the brain.
Once examined, participants were asked to ride a stationary bike 30 minutes a day, three days a week for a period of 12 weeks. The sessions were adapted to each child’s performance, and were re-examined at the end of the exercise program to determine what effect it had had on brain metabolism and structure, as well as on their cognitive abilities.
Control of a substance called choline
The result they observed was that exercise influences the mechanism of the brain because it prevents an increase in the concentration of choline, an essential nutrient for brain health, but whose excessive concentration is sometimes the result of an increase in the loss of nerve cells, something that happens for example with Alzheimer’s.
[Exercise] seems to protect brain cells from damage caused by age and some degenerative diseases
According to the results, the volunteers of the exercise group showed stable choline concentration levels, while those of the control group who did not exercise had increasing levels of choline concentration.
Also, and this is less surprising, participants who exercised showed an improvement in cardiopulmonary performance and in their general physical condition. In summary: exercising at older ages not only improves the general physical condition, but also seems to protect brain cells from the damage caused by age and some degenerative diseases.