Current research study states that physical activity improves cognitive brain function by reducing BMI and improving insulin metabolism
Research article, published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, April 13, 2022
Read the full research article here
How does exercise protect brain health?
Previous research has shown that larger gray matter volume can help protect against dementia by improving brain function.
The new study shows that insulin resistance and BMI mediate the relationship between larger and smaller brain gray matter volumes.
The study involved 134 people with an average age of 69 who had no memory problems. The participants filled out a physical activity survey covering the past 12 months. They also had brain scans to measure glucose metabolism and brain volume.
“Exercise has often been called food for the brain with many studies showing the benefit of exercise for improving brain health and reducing the risk of dementia.”
“This current research study states that physical activity improves cognitive brain function by reducing BMI and improving insulin metabolism. Improvement in weight control can limit the rate of brain volume loss, a known risk factor for dementia.” says Dr. Zablow, former assistant professor at the University of California San Diego Medical School in La Jolia, CA.
“This study will help physicians reinforce the importance of regular exercise in reducing BMI as a low-cost means of limiting cognitive decline.”
– Dr. Zablow
The metabolism of glucose in the brain provides fuel for the brain by generating adenosine 5′-triphosphate ATP — a key molecule for maintaining the health of neurons and other cells. ATP is also key for generating neurotransmitters. Reduced glucose metabolism in the brain can be seen in people with dementia.
Gray matter development peaks at age 2-3 years. It begins to decrease afterward in some areas of the brain, but the density of the gray matter increases. From an evolutionary perspective, the higher processing ability of the human brain and its development are due to this increase in density.
In some studies larger total brain volume, estimated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has a weak correlation with higher intelligence in men and a very weak correlation in women with the ability to do well in intelligence tests.
In contrast, brain tissue deterioration and loss of volume is a significant contributor to lower cognitive ability later in life.
Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Raeanne Moore, associate adjunct professor of psychiatry of UCSD in La Jolia, CA to ask her about the results, “The literature clearly demonstrates that cardiovascular risk factors are associated with cognitive decline and risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”
She also commented: “This study adds to the growing body of research on the positive benefits of staying active on brain health, especially as we age.”
Dr. Moore’s final remarks were: “Studies investigating subtle brain changes prior to the development of dementia are critical to optimizing brain health and staving off cognitive decline.”
Source: Medical News Today
Click on the below article to read more about how you can measure total brain volume by using the Neuroreader® tool.