Staying active through exercising has time and again been proven to be one of the best ways to fend off physiological as well as mental health issues and now a new study has shown that exercise helps alter brain chemistry to the extent that it can protect against again synapses.
The UC San Francisco study showed that elders who were active through either physical activities of exercises have more proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition. This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The study appears in the January 7 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition have been shown in mice but have been much harder to demonstrate in people.
More Proteins Mean Better Nerve Signals
Researchers found that elderly people who remained active had higher levels of proteins that facilitate the exchange of information between neurons. This result dovetailed with Honer’s earlier finding that people who had more of these proteins in their brains when they died were better able to maintain their cognition late in life.
To their surprise the researchers found that the effects ranged beyond the hippocampus, the brain’s seat of memory, to encompass other brain regions associated with cognitive function.
The brains of most older adults accumulate amyloid and tau, toxic proteins that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Many scientists believe amyloid accumulates first, then tau, causing synapses and neurons to fall apart.