According to recent studies, seniors with active lifestyles lower their risk of brain damage. The results were published in the online edition of Neurology.
The team observed that the more active participants had better movement skills even in the situation where MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) showed brain areas with increased damage. White matter intensities are small damaged sectors in the brain, frequently detected in older people. These areas have been linked to diminished motor functions which can cause various problems like walking difficulties.
Debra A. Fleischman, author of the study considers that:
“These results underscore the importance of efforts to encourage a more active lifestyle in older people to prevent movement problems, which is a major public health challenge.”
She added that:
“Physical activity may create a ‘reserve’ that protects motor abilities against the effects of age-related brain damage.”
The team wanted to test a theory according to which physical activities could modulate how brain damage influences one’s motor skills at old age. Previous animal and human trials suggested that the reason behind why physical activities are beneficial to brain health was partially because active movements increase blood flow and stimulate the production of new blood vessels which help maintain a functioning cerebral circulatory system.
The study consisted of 167 participants with an average age of 80. Movement monitors were attached to each person. The device recorded their exercises and rests over a period of 11 days. Furthermore, each participant had to go through a series of tests that assessed movement skills. MRI scans were also used in order to examine the amount of white matter hyperintensities in the brain.
Scientist observed that the most active participants made 10 percent of the whole group. Most of these people belonging to that 10 percent scored well in the movement tests, meaning that the white matter hyperintensities did not affect their capacities.
Among those with a less active lifestyle, a larger volume of brain damage was associated with weaker results in the movement tests.
Participants with the least active lifestyle were even more affected by the presence of white matter hyperintensities. The results were unchanged after factors like body mass index and vascular disease were taken into consideration by the scientists.
The team is now planning on a long-term trial, in order to see if physical activities can protect motor abilities and slow down the brain damage process.
Image Source: What Is It