Fitness is not just for your body, but also your brain. Perhaps you already knew this, but more and more studies are coming out in support of what has largely been a theory. If you’re physically fit and healthy you may also remain mentally fit for years to come, according to a recent study.
Not only could exercise help your boost brain health, it may also help keep degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s at bay. Not only that, exercise may also help reduce negative impacts on memory due to stress.
Conversely, lack of physical activity may cause the opposite effect and may lead to weakening of vital nerve fibers in the brain. This leads to cognitive decline.
According to a new study by UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, exercise can help keep your brain healthy as you age. The researchers focused on brain tissues known as white matter: millions of bundles of nerve fibers used to communicate across the brain. According to Wikipedia, white matter affects learning and brain functions.
During the study, researchers had older people with a high risk of Alzheimer’s take memory and other mental tests to measure their brain function. The participants showed early signs of memory loss or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at the start of the study.
Participant’s brains were scanned to see how well their white matter was functioning. And, unlike previous studies that relied on participant’s own assessment of fitness, the researchers used a scientific formula called maximal oxygen uptake.
The researchers found that the less physically fit people tended to have weaker white matter, which in turn correlated with lower brain function.
While more studies need to be done – there still are unanswered questions regarding co-relation between fitness and Alzheimer’s – the study adds to the body of evidence that exercise may support cognitive function.
Of course, one must also observe a sensible diet to go with it. Certain natural compounds and supplements to help boost brain health and memory may also be worthwhile to look into.