Monday, October 24, 2016

Strenuous Physical Activity May Protect Memory in Later Life


Exercise is a very important part of any healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are generally believed to be among the most important elements in weight loss, weight management and general health. But there is always some debate as to which is more important, diet or exercise. Many experts agree, however, that for weight loss, diet is more effective  than exercise -- at least initially. But once weight is lost, exercise is necessary for weight maintenance or weight control. And exercise may be beneficial to memory.

Exercise is already viewed as essential for improving metabolic processes. These include blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, HbA1c and glucose control. And a recent study indicates that physical activity during midlife leads to better cognitive abilities as a person gets older.

The study was done in Finland, and it looked at 3050 twins. The results of the study indicated that moderately vigorous physical activity resulted in better cognitive abilities after 25 years. The results were obtained by comparing the cognitive abilities of twin pairs, where one of the twins engaged in strenuous physical activity and the other did not. Strenuous physical activity did not necessarily improve memory, but the activity did counter memory loss. But the physical activity had to be activity that is more strenuous than walking.

Since physical activity is very important for good health in general, and maybe for some cognitive protection, it would be great if there was a way to obtain the benefits of physical activity without engaging in physical activity -- a pill for example. To this end, a mouse study being done at Deakin University in Australia might eventually lead to such a pill -- an "exercise pill." In the study, the pill does not cause the mice to lose weight, however, it does make them metabolically healthier.
At any rate, physical activity is important for weight loss, weight control, and good metabolic health. And if the study results referenced above are valid, strenuous physical activity in midlife can help us maintain cognitive abilities as we get older. Therefore, the results should be useful to healthcare providers as they counsel patients on healthy lifestyles.

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