Exercising is beneficial not just for the body, but also for the mind. And to reinforce this fact, a recent study has revealed that exercising during 40s and 50s could help in preventing brain shrinkage in later life, thus helping to check dementia and memory loss.
The new study conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine suggests that people who do not follow a fitness regime in their 30s and 40s may have a smaller brain size 20 years later. As part of the study, the participants took a treadmill test, followed by an MRI scan when they reached 40 and at this time no signs of heart disease or dementia were observed.
When the test was repeated two decades later, the scientists found that those who did not follow a fitness regime witnessed a higher blood pressure or a greater increase in heart rate. However, those who were physically fit did not show up any problems. Years later, it was observed that those who rarely exercised experienced greater brain shrinkage, also called atrophy, compared to those who exercised.
The lead researcher and postdoctoral fellow at the Boston University School of Medicine, Nicole Spartano, told the Live Science, “If you think about each of these factors having an effect on your brain health, then the effects can really start to add up.”
According to the researchers, as published online in the journal Neurology, “Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can be a helpful step to prevent conditions caused by brain atrophy, such as dementia.” Thus, choosing a healthy lifestyle in early years is very important to lead a happy life later.
This is not the first study establishing the link between exercise and brain health. In 2012, a study at the Centre for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Japan had found that adults who were more active during the day had less chance of getting a shrinkage in the frontal lobe region of the brain which controls emotions, problem-solving, memory, judgment and personality.
According to a 2015 report of Alzheimer Disease International, dementia, which is related to memory decline, affects over 3 million people over the age of 65 in the United States every year. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease when a person loses brain cells, resulting in brain shrinkage.
Dementia is also associated with diseases in which the brain cells degenerate and die more quickly. A research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Annual Conference in Washington in 2015 showed that dementia is gender specific. It said women face a higher risk of developing dementia than men.
Role of food
Not just physical activity, even food helps in warding off dementia. According to a report on usnews.com, researcher Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, and colleagues came up with MIND diet in 2015. The MIND diet – a combination of DASH diet and Mediterranean diet – that ranked as the best overall diet for 2016 was created with an eye to cut dementia risk in older adults. The DASH diet emphasizes on less sodium and healthy eating to check hypertension.
One needs to be alert to understand the symptoms of dementia to take proper treatment at the right time. If you or your loved one is battling any form of mental illness, the Sovereign Mental Health Services is willing to help. Chat online with one of our experts today or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information.