exercise memory

Try exercise to improve memory and thinking, new guideline urges

December 28, 2017

Science Daily/Mayo Clinic

For patients with mild cognitive impairment, don't be surprised if your health care provider prescribes exercise rather than medication. A new guideline for medical practitioners says they should recommend twice-weekly exercise to people with mild cognitive impairment to improve memory and thinking.

 

The recommendation is part of an updated guideline for mild cognitive impairment published in the Dec. 27 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

 

"Regular physical exercise has long been shown to have heart health benefits, and now we can say exercise also may help improve memory for people with mild cognitive impairment," says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., lead author, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Mayo Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. "What's good for your heart can be good for your brain." Dr. Petersen is the Cora Kanow Professor of Alzheimer's Disease Research.

 

Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. Symptoms can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.

 

Generally, these changes aren't severe enough to significantly interfere with day-to-day life and usual activities. However, mild cognitive impairment may increase the risk of later progressing to dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease or other neurological conditions. But some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worse, and a few eventually get better.

 

The academy's guideline authors developed the updated recommendations on mild cognitive impairment after reviewing all available studies. Six-month studies showed twice-weekly workouts may help people with mild cognitive impairment as part of an overall approach to managing their symptoms.

 

Dr. Petersen encourages people to do aerobic exercise: Walk briskly, jog, whatever you like to do, for 150 minutes a week -- 30 minutes, five times or 50 minutes, three times. The level of exertion should be enough to work up a bit of a sweat but doesn't need to be so rigorous that you can't hold a conversation. "Exercising might slow down the rate at which you would progress from mild cognitive impairment to dementia," he says.

 

Another guideline update says clinicians may recommend cognitive training for people with mild cognitive impairment. Cognitive training uses repetitive memory and reasoning exercises that may be computer-assisted or done in person individually or in small groups. There is weak evidence that cognitive training may improve measures of cognitive function, the guideline notes.

 

The guideline did not recommend dietary changes or medications. There are no drugs for mild cognitive impairment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

 

More than 6 percent of people in their 60s have mild cognitive impairment across the globe, and the condition becomes more common with age, according to the American Academy of Neurology. More than 37 percent of people 85 and older have it.

 

With such prevalence, finding lifestyle factors that may slow down the rate of cognitive impairment can make a big difference to individuals and society, Dr. Petersen notes.

 

"We need not look at aging as a passive process; we can do something about the course of our aging," he says. "So if I'm destined to become cognitively impaired at age 72, I can exercise and push that back to 75 or 78. That's a big deal."

 

The guideline, endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association, updates a 2001 academy recommendation on mild cognitive impairment. Dr. Petersen was involved in the development of the first clinical trial for mild cognitive impairment and continues as a worldwide leader researching this stage of disease when symptoms possibly could be stopped or reversed.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171228145026.htm

High-intensity exercise boosts memory, new research suggests

November 22, 2017

Science Daily/McMaster University

The health advantages of high-intensity exercise are widely known but new research points to another major benefit: better memory. The findings could have implications for an aging population which is grappling with the growing problem of catastrophic diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

 

The findings could have implications for an aging population which is grappling with the growing problem of catastrophic diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

 

Scientists have found that six weeks of intense exercise -- short bouts of interval training over the course of 20 minutes -- showed significant improvements in what is known as high-interference memory, which, for example, allows us to distinguish our car from another of the same make and model.

 

The study is published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

 

The findings are important because memory performance of the study participants, who were all healthy young adults, increased over a relatively short period of time, say researchers.

 

They also found that participants who experienced greater fitness gains also experienced greater increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth, function and survival of brain cells.

 

"Improvements in this type of memory from exercise might help to explain the previously established link between aerobic exercise and better academic performance," says Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and lead author of the study.

 

"At the other end of our lifespan, as we reach our senior years, we might expect to see even greater benefits in individuals with memory impairment brought on by conditions such as dementia," she says.

 

For the study, 95 participants completed six weeks of exercise training, combined exercise and cognitive training or no training (the control group which did neither and remained sedentary). Both the exercise and combined training groups improved performance on a high-interference memory task, while the control group did not.

 

Researchers measured changes in aerobic fitness, memory and neurotrophic factor, before and after the study protocol.

 

The results reveal a potential mechanism for how exercise and cognitive training may be changing the brain to support cognition, suggesting that the two work together through complementary pathways of the brain to improve high-interference memory.

 

Researchers have begun to examine older adults to determine if they will experience the same positive results with the combination of exercise and cognitive training.

 

"One hypothesis is that we will see greater benefits for older adults given that this type of memory declines with age," says Heisz. "However, the availability of neurotrophic factors also declines with age and this may mean that we do not get the synergistic effects."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171122103555.htm

Running, cardio activities in young adulthood preserves thinking in middle age

April 2, 2014

Science Daily/American Academy of Neurology (AAN)

 

Young adults who run or participate in other cardio fitness activities may preserve their memory and thinking skills in middle age, according to a new study published in the April 2, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Middle age was defined as ages 43 to 55.

"Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health," said study author David R. Jacobs, Jr, PhD, with the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes."

Cardiorespiratory fitness is a measure of how well your body transports oxygen to your muscles, and how well your muscles are able to absorb the oxygen during exercise.

For the study, 2,747 healthy people with an average age of 25 underwent treadmill tests the first year of the study and then again 20 years later. Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured verbal memory, psychomotor speed (the relationship between thinking skills and physical movement) and executive function.

For the treadmill test, which was similar to a cardiovascular stress test, participants walked or ran as the speed and incline increased until they could not continue or had symptoms such as shortness of breath. At the first test, participants lasted an average of 10 minutes on the treadmill. Twenty years later, that number decreased by an average of 2.9 minutes. For every additional minute people completed on the treadmill at the first test, they recalled 0.12 more words correctly on the memory test of 15 words and correctly replaced 0.92 more numbers with meaningless symbols in the test of psychomotor speed 25 years later, even after adjusting for other factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.

People who had smaller decreases in their time completed on the treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger decreases. Specifically, they were better able to correctly state ink color (for example, for the word "yellow" written in green ink, the correct answer was "green").

"These changes were significant, and while they may be modest, they were larger than the effect from one year of aging," Jacobs said. "Other studies in older individuals have shown that these tests are among the strongest predictors of developing dementia in the future. One study showed that every additional word remembered on the memory test was associated with an 18-percent decrease in the risk of developing dementia after 10 years."

"These findings are likely to help us earlier identify and consequently prevent or treat those at high risk of developing dementia," Jacobs said.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402162333.htm

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