25 minutes of moderate exercise weekly may help prevent cognitive decline. health and wellness

Getting moderate exercise for 25 minutes a week (ie the equivalent of less than four minutes per day) may be a valid strategy to help strengthen the brain and prevent cognitive decline. This is the conclusion of a recent study published in the scientific journal Alzheimer’s Disease Journal, In which MRI of the brain of more than 10,000 healthy men and women between 18 and 97 years of age was done. The researchers found that, regardless of age, participants who did at least 25 minutes of moderate exercise a week had larger brain sizes in areas related to thinking and memory, which tend to decline with age.

“The process of age-related brain volume reduction appears to be relatively unique to humans. It is estimated that it begins with a loss of 0.2% per year in the 30s and increases to 0.5% per year by the age of 60, increasing to 4% per year in Alzheimer’s. Cognitive efficiency decreases with age-related decreases in brain volume. Considering that we do not have drugs to stop this decline, the results of this study are important,” said Cyrus A., Professor at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, United States). Raji says. The study’s lead author believes the data is “surprising” because of the low range of physical activity needed to achieve beneficial effects on brain health: “Current public health recommendations suggest 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Has gone;” “However, our study is encouraging because lower limits of physical activity, which are easier to achieve for most people, may still have potential benefits for brain health.”

Lower physical activity limits, which are easier for more people to reach, may still have potential brain health benefits

Cyrus A. Raji, Professor, Washington University School of Medicine

For Jesús Porta Atesam, president of the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), the data of the study “reinforce all previous findings and all hypotheses that moderate and continuous physical exercise can be a factor that prevents cognitive decline”. Neurologists from the San Carlos Clinical Hospital believe that the increase in brain volume associated with physical exercise may be due to a greater number of synaptogenesis: “An important thing about the study is that it was not observed that exercise “The participants remain the same, while in the rest, the brain is atrophying, but the volume of the brain increases in the former,” he adds.

Juan Domingo Gispar, head of the neuroimaging group at the Barcelonaeta Brain Research Center (BBRC) of the Pascal Maragall Foundation, explains that the research data “are plausible”, but he believes that these types of association studies are subject to change. Multiple explanations: “You might think exercise increases brain volume, but you might also think the opposite. That is to say, people whose brains are better protected find it easier to do physical exercise because they have better health, so the direction of causality would be opposite. “The strongest findings come from clinical trials, of which about a dozen have been published.” One of them was carried out in research published in 2021 by researchers at the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, In this case, the conclusion was the same: “Our results suggest that exercise is a promising approach to influencing inflammation and brain volume.”

Physical exercise and Alzheimer’s

According to data from the Pascal Maragall Foundation, it is estimated that dementia affects one in ten people over the age of 65 and one third over the age of 85. Overall, about 900,000 people in Spain suffer from dementia, the most common cause. Alzheimer’s is common, occurring in six to seven cases out of every ten.

“While we wait for the arrival of lecanumab and donanemab, the first drugs that have shown some effectiveness in modulating the progression of Alzheimer’s, there are no drugs that prevent mild cognitive impairment in patients, but we do have such measures. that can delay this cognitive decline associated with a neurodegenerative disease and one of them, along with a Mediterranean diet, an active social life, or mental health care, is moderate and sustained physical exercise over time. So, if we Having been told that 25 minutes a week can increase brain volume and, therefore, theoretically reduce future risk of cognitive decline, it costs nothing to walk instead of climbing four flights to the office or taking the bus. “Has. Taxi.” , called Porta Atesum.

Could physical exercise be a kind of preventive medicine against Alzheimer’s? “The fact that, according to our research, the superior cortex includes areas important for the development of the disease, suggests that physical activity is an important way to maintain brain health and reduce the risk of future memory loss.” It is possible.” Cyrus replied, “Agreed.” An opinion that is not entirely shared by Juan Domingo Gispert, who has no doubts about the effect of exercise at the cardiovascular level, but at a more molecular and Alzheimer’s specific level.

“Physical exercise is recognized as a protective factor against dementia, but what is not very clear is what its mechanism is. Surely it is more about improving heart health. The most prevalent dementia is Alzheimer’s and the risk factors that account for a third of cases are, for the most part, of cardiovascular origin (high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, sedentary lifestyle, etc.)”, says the spokesperson of the Barceloneta Brain Research Center.. A recent study published in lancet healthy longevity Researchers at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and led by Gispert himself, have indeed demonstrated that atherosclerosis (accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries), in addition to being the main cause of heart disease, is also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s patients. , which may mean that asymptomatic people with atherosclerosis will be more vulnerable to the effects of the disease.

Juan Domingo Gispert recalls that Alzheimer’s is characterized by the accumulation of tau protein and amyloid beta peptide 42 in the brain. In 2023, a group of Spanish researchers published a systematic review of studies that highlighted the relationship between physical exercise and amyloid. Beta protein. Result? Physical performance was not associated with amyloid beta accumulation in the brain or blood. “While there are no conclusive data, it is reasonable to think that physical exercise may work in the early stages of the disease, helping to prevent amyloid from accumulating in the brain (this happens up to 20 years before symptoms appear) .There, when protein starts to accumulate, physical exercise can certainly have a greater impact on that accumulation,” Gispert concluded.

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