Exercising has been found in studies to help protect brain cells. A new study looking at the mechanisms involved in this link reveals that the function exercise plays in managing insulin and BMI levels may help protect brain volume and hence help prevent dementia.
The findings will be published in Neurology.
Study author Géraldine Poisnel, PhD, of the Inserm Research Center in Caen, France, stated, “These findings may help us understand how physical activity affects brain health, which may help us create strategies to prevent or delay age-related deterioration in memory and cognitive skills.” “Physically active older people enjoy cardiovascular benefits, which may result in higher structural brain integrity.”
“These results may help us to understand how physical activity affects brain health, which may guide us in developing strategies to prevent or delay age-related decline in memory and thinking skills, Older adults who are physically active gain cardiovascular benefits, which may result in greater structural brain integrity.”Géraldine Poisnel, PhD, of Inserm Research Center in Caen, France.
In contrast, researchers discovered that insulin and body mass index (BMI) levels had no effect on the link between exercise and glucose metabolism in the brain. Patients with dementia have decreased glucose metabolism in the brain.
The study included 134 participants with no memory issues and an average age of 69. People completed surveys about their physical activities throughout the previous year. They had brain scans to determine volume and glucose metabolism. All BMI insulin levels, as well as cholesterol, blood pressure, and other variables were collected.
People who engaged in the most physical exercise had a greater overall volume of grey matter in their brains than those who engaged in the least amount of physical activity, with an average of approximately 550,000 cubic millimeters (mm3) compared to approximately 540,000 mm3. The same results were obtained when researchers solely looked at parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Those who were the most active also exhibited a greater average rate of glucose metabolism in the brain than those who were the least active.
Higher levels of physical activity were not related to the amount of amyloid plaque in people’s brains. Amyloid plaque is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
More research, according to Poisnel, is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying these correlations. Maintaining a lower BMI through physical activity may help prevent the altered insulin metabolism that is common with aging, therefore enhancing brain health, “Poisnel explained.
The study does not establish that physical activity protects brain volume. It only demonstrates a relationship.
One weakness of the study is that participants reported their own physical activity, so they may not have accurately remembered it.
The study was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, Region Normandy, and the MMA Foundation of Future Entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, the role that exercise plays in controlling insulin levels and BMI may help protect brain volume and prevent dementia in older people.
AAN is the source.