It’s not exactly breaking news that exercise is good for us. We all KNOW that, even when we don’t feel thrilled about doing it.
But new research reveals how exercise isn’t just good for the body it’s critical for the BRAIN, too… especially as we age.
Other animal studies have linked exercise and better brain health before, of course. But this groundbreaking new HUMAN research reveals how activity literally enhances the connections in our brains.
And once you see the details, I think you’re going to feel a lot more motivated to unseat your seat and get moving.
Exercise linked proteins protect the brain
You’ve heard of synapses before, right? They’re part of the circuits that connect neurons in your brain.
Electrical signals… essentially messages with instructions… are passed through your synapses. They’re critical for maintaining healthy cognition.
In fact, these connections between your neurons are so crucial that brain scientists believe keeping them in top condition could be vital for fending off dementia.
Older senior volunteers agreed to have their so-called “late in life” physical activity tracked for the new study. Plus, they donated their brains to the researchers after their passing.
When the researchers examined the donated brains, they found them jam-packed with the types of proteins linked to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
But they found something else in the brains of the seniors who had remained active. They had far more of a special class of protective proteins.
These proteins help keep information flowing freely between neurons. And this wasn’t the first time the researchers had seen this effect.
In an earlier study, they found that seniors who stayed active later in life had more of the proteins in their brains. But they also found those same seniors had maintained significantly better cognitive function late in life.
Head off Alzheimer’s with activity
You see, our brains tend to get gunked up with toxic amyloid and tau as we age. Those, of course, are the proteins associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
We still have a lot to learn about these proteins and what causes them. But scientists currently believe that amyloid starts to build up first. Then tau swoops in and starts destroying our synapses and neurons.
And according to Kaitlin Casaletto, Ph.D., the lead author of the study, “Maintaining the integrity of these connections between neurons may be vital to fending off dementia since the synapse is really the site where cognition happens.”
That’s where exercise comes in. When we have bunches of these exercise-induced proteins circulating through our brains, we protect those connections.
We’re able to retain what the scientists call “synaptic integrity,” so we remain sharp as a tack all throughout our golden years.
The researchers say the proteins appear to…
- reduce the relationship between toxic amyloid and tau
- dial down the tau-triggered degeneration of synapses and neurons
In other words, they can help slam the brakes on the slide towards Alzheimer’s disease. And if that’s not enough to inspire all of us to get up and get moving more, I don’t know what is.
But remember staying active doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym or do a formal exercise routine. You can try a brisk daily walk, for example. Ask a friend along to hold you accountable and make it more fun.
Or keep some small hand weights next to your easy chair and pop up during commercial breaks. You can sneak in some brain-protecting exercise while still catching up on your favorite show.
Need a little exercise inspiration? Check out my earlier report, Stay fit and flexible with 8 fun chair exercises.
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