Exercise preserves brain cells and prevents memory loss

Exercise has been known to be essential for overall health. In a study carried out by researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, the benefits of exercise on brain health have been emphasized. Researchers found that exercise can help preserve brain cells and prevent loss of memory, cognitive problems, and general problems in memory.

For the study, the researchers assigned different groups of mice to three different workout programs in order to identify the effects of the exercises on memory and overall brain health. The three types of workout programs studied were weight lifting, running, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These were created as a model of approximately what the typical human might do in a workout program.

At the end of the study, all of the mice exhibited general fitness gains. In particular, aerobic activity was found to enhance the health of brain cells and prevent memory problems better than the two other exercise programs. Although the weight lifting group and the HIIT group showed better fat-burning activities than the aerobic group, they did not show any signs of new brain cell growth or prevention in memory loss and other memory problems.

The Finnish study was not the only study to demonstrate the benefits of exercise to the brain. In fact, a 2014 study of elderly women revealed a similar effect. In that study, elderly women who engaged in regular aerobic exercise exhibited growth in the region of the brain responsible for memory. Meanwhile, those who engaged only in weightlifting did not show this positive effect on their brain cells.

Researchers explained why weight lifting and HIIT did not cause the same positive effects as aerobic exercises. For one, the researchers believed that high-intensity workouts could result in stress that could hamper brain cell growth. Although mild stress can be beneficial to the brain, too much stress may not be helpful.

Therefore, the researchers suggested that incorporating regular moderate aerobic exercise into your fitness regimen may be better for preserving and enhancing memory.

Aerobic exercise decelerates shrinking of brain size in older age

Another study showed the benefits of aerobic exercise on the brain. The study, which was published in the journal NeuroImage, found that aerobic exercise can slow down the shrinking of the brain in older age. In turn, aerobic exercise also helps maintain cognitive function.

For the study, the researchers looked at how aerobic exercise might affect the brain. The researchers reviewed 14 different clinical trials with a total data source of 737 brain scans taken prior to and after engagement in aerobic exercise programs. The participants of the study were between 24 and 76 years old. Although there were healthy participants, others had a mild cognitive problem, depression, and schizophrenia.

Some of the workout programs that the participants engaged in included walking, stationary cycling, and treadmill exercise. These programs lasted for three to 24 months and were composed of two to five workout sessions every week.

The results revealed that aerobic exercise did not change the overall volume of the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for the formation and consolidation of memory. However, it did increase the size of the left part of this brain region, which is involved in memory function and verbal learning.

According to the researchers, the findings of their study suggested that aerobic exercise can slow down age-related cognitive decline promoted by the reduction in the size of the left hippocampus. Thus, they suggested that exercise can be a maintenance program for the brain. (Related: Aerobic Exercise Improves Memory and Brain Power in Older Adults.)

Read more news stories and studies on preserving cognition and memory by going to Brain.news.

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