New Study Connects Exercize And Reduced Memory Loss Dementia Risk

Researchers report that a small amount of physical exercise can protect elderly individuals from long-term memory loss that can result suddenly following infection, illnesses or injury in old age.

According to the study by new University of Colorado Boulder research associates, aging rats that ran just over half a kilometer each week were protected against infection-induced memory loss.

Even a small amount of running was sufficient to confer robust benefits for those rats that ran compared to those that did not run, the researchers found.  “This is an important finding because older aged individuals are more vulnerable to memory impairments following bacterial infections or surgery,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  “Millions of baby boomers are reaching the age when diminished memory should be of great concern.”

Prior research studies have shown that exercise in humans protects against declines in cognitive function associated with aging and protects against dementia. Researchers also have shown that dementia is often preceded by bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, or other immune challenges.

The OC resesearchers noted that this is the first study to show that voluntary exercise reduced aging-induced susceptibility to the cognitive impairments that follow a bacterial infection.  The researchers found that rats infected with E. coli bacteria experienced detrimental effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that mediates learning and memory.   Small amounts of voluntary exercise prevented the priming of microglia, the exaggerated inflammation in the brain, and the decrease of growth factors.

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