New Study Shows Exercise Protects Brain Against Cognitive Diseases

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Yet another study has shown how exercise can help protect the brain against cognitive diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, even for those already showing signs.

Exercise helps protect the brain against cognitive diseases

New studies continually show that exercise helps the body fight numerous health conditions and diseases, and the latest study has found that breaking a sweat can help your brain keep cognitive disorders at bay.

Exercise helps boost levels of a type of protein that is known to strengthen communication between brain cells via synapses, CNN reported. Scientists believe this protein may play a key role in keeping cognitive diseases at bay.

In the study, the protein appeared to protect the brain of active older people, even those who were already showing signs of tangles, plaques, and other hallmark signatures of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases.

“Synapses are the critical communicating junctions between nerve cells and are really where the magic happens when it comes to cognition,” Kaitlin Casaletto said in an email. She is an assistant professor of neurology in the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California San Francisco and the author of the study.

“Yet, we do not understand how this happens at a biological level in humans,” Casaletto confessed, pointing out that the study is only able to show an association, not necessarily the cause and effect. Nonetheless, the study provides valuable evidence supporting the benefits of exercise.

“All of our thinking and memory occurs as a result of these synaptic communications,” Casaletto continued. “We have described, for the first time in humans, that synaptic functioning may be a pathway through which physical activity promotes brain health.”

“I think these findings begin to support the dynamic nature of the brain in response to our activities and the capacity of the elderly brain to mount healthy responses to activity even into the oldest ages,” Casaletto added.

Confirms earlier studies

Casaletto pointed out that prior studies have demonstrated physical activity can reduce the risk of dementia by 30-80%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity can improve memory, reduce anxiety or depression, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. CDC pointed out that one study found cognitive decline is almost twice as common among inactive adults compared to active adults.

How much exercise do adults need to see brain-boosting benefits?

The CDC and the Cleveland Clinic recommend that most adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. This breaks down into roughly 30 minutes per day, five days per week.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, aerobic exercise, in particular, is very beneficial for maintaining brain health. In addition to physical activity, they recommend “mental exercise,” engaging in mentally stimulating activities.