physical fitness dementia

Better physical fitness and lower aortic stiffness key to slower brain aging

June 12, 2018

Science Daily/IOS Press

The rate of decline in certain aspects of memory may be explained by a combination of overall physical fitness and the stiffness of the central arteries.

 

A study to be published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease considers the mechanisms underlying cognitive performance in older people living independently. Lead author, PhD candidate Greg Kennedy, says that from early adulthood, memory and other aspects of cognition slowly decline, with an increasing risk of developing into dementia in later life.

 

"Exactly why this occurs is unclear, but research indicates that exercise and physical fitness are protective," Mr Kennedy says. "A healthier, more elastic aorta is also theorised to protect cognitive function, by reducing the negative effects of excessive blood pressure on the brain."

 

The study investigated whether fitness was associated with better cognition through a healthier aorta. Physical fitness and arterial stiffness assessment One hundred and two people (73 females and 29 males), aged between 60 and 90 years, living independently in aged care communities, were recruited in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Their fitness was assessed with the Six-Minute Walk test which involved participants walking back and forth between two markers placed 10 metres apart for six minutes.

 

Only participants who completed the full six minutes were included in the analysis, which assessed the stiffness of their arteries and cognitive performance.

 

"People generally are less fit and have stiffer arteries as they age, which seems to explain the difference in memory ability that is usually attributed to 'getting older'," Mr Kennedy says.

 

Interestingly, physical fitness did not seem to affect central arterial stiffness, however Mr Kennedy points out that only current fitness was assessed -- long term fitness may be a better predictor of central arterial stiffness, however this has yet to be investigated.

 

"Unfortunately, there is currently no effective pharmacological intervention that has proven effective in the long term in reducing this decline or staving off dementia," Mr Kennedy says.

 

"The results of this study indicate that remaining as physically fit as possible, and monitoring central arterial health, may well be an important, cost effective way to maintain our memory and other brain functions in older age."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180612092122.htm

Lower IQ and poorer fitness in teen years increase risk of early-onset dementia

March 10, 2014

Science Daily/University of Gothenburg

 

Men who at the age of 18 years have poorer cardiovascular fitness and/or a lower IQ more often suffer from dementia before the age of 60. This is shown in a recent study encompassing more than one million Swedish men.

In several extensive studies, researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy of Gothenburg University have previously analyzed Swedish men's conscription results and were able to show a correlation between cardiovascular fitness as a teenager and health problems in later life.

Increased risk for early-onset dementia

In their latest study, based on data from 1.1 million young Swedish men, the Gothenburg researcher team shows that those with poorer cardiovascular fitness and/or lower IQ in their teenage years more often suffer from early-onset dementia.

"Previous studies have shown the correlation between cardiovascular fitness and the risk of dementia in old age. Now, for the first time, we can show that the increased risk also applies to early-onset dementia and its precursors," says Sahlgrenska Academy researcher Jenny Nyberg, who headed the study.

Controlled for other risk factors

Expressed in figures, the study shows that men who when conscripted had poorer cardiovascular fitness were 2.5 times more likely to develop early-onset dementia later in life. A lower IQ entailed a 4 times greater risk, and a combination of both poor cardiovascular fitness and low IQ entailed a 7 times greater risk of early-onset dementia.

The increased risk remained even when controlled for other risk factors, such as heredity, medical history, and social-economic circumstances.

Fitness strengthens the brain

"We already knew that physical and cognitive exercise reduces the risk of neurological disease. Physical exercise increases nerve cell complexity and function and even generation of new nerve cells in the adult brain, which strengthens our mental and physiological functions. In other words, good cardiovascular fitness makes the brain more resistant to damage and disease," says Prof. Georg Kuhn, senior author of the study.

Overlooked group

People who develop early-onset dementia are often of working age and can have children still living at home, which means the consequences for both the sufferers and their families are even more serious. Despite this, patients with early-onset dementia are a relatively overlooked group.

"This makes it important to initiate more research into how physical and mental exercise can affect the prevalence of different types of dementia. Perhaps exercise can be used as both a prophylactic and a treatment for those in the risk zone for early-onset dementia," says Nyberg.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102208.htm

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