A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that short walks every day can help to keep the brain healthy, supporting the overall resilience of cognitive function.
For the study, a team of scientists selected 26 adults aged 60 and over. The participants were divided into two groups, the first was with low physical activity where people walked 4,000 or fewer steps; the second group was with high physical activity, where people walked more than 4,000 steps per day.
The researchers discovered that people who walked more than 4,000 steps (approximately 3 km) every day had thicker hippocampi and thicker associated brain regions compared to people from the low physical activity.
According to a small study by the Canadian team, a moderate walking regimen can reduce the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment connected to poor blood vessels in the brain.
To complete their study, a team of scientists randomly divided 38 older adults with mild vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). One group had one-hour walking classes every week for 6 months, while another group did not perform any additional tasks to their everyday activity.
Participants in the training group had significant improvements in their reaction times on the cognitive tests and demonstrated changes in their brain activity that made them resemble healthy brains more.
Senior author of the study Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a researcher with the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of British Columbia, says: “While more research is needed to better understand how it brings about its benefits and what factors may impact the degree of benefit observed, there is minimal negative consequence of exercising.”
Health experts provide various studies confirming that obesity affects the brain. The researcher Ranjana Mehta, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health in College Station, Texas, says that extra pounds can change the brain structure and cause atrophy.
Here are 6 ways how obesity affects the brain, confirmed by the studies:
Extra weight is associated with poorer episodic, or difficulty in recalling events from the past.
Midlife obesity leads to the higher risk of dementia.
Obesity linked to changes in brain activity that affect neuromuscular function, including making it harder to grasp.
People with extra weight expend more mental resource for walking.
People who are overweight may have dull ability to experience pleasure.
Extra weight is associated with the increased risk of depression.
Health experts agree that losing weight usually has a positive effect on brain health. Besides, such lifestyle changes as heart-healthy diet and exercising have also proven to be a good method to optimize cognitive function.
According to the new study from the US, published in the journal Hypertension, the long-term blood pressure fluctuations may cause the faster decline of the brain and cognitive function in seniors.
Bo Qin from Rutgers Cancer Institute in the USA says that blood pressure variability may signal blood flow instability, which could lead to the damage of the finer vessels of the body with changes in brain structure and function. The researcher believes that these blood pressure fluctuations may indicate pathological processes such as inflammation and impaired function of the blood vessels.
During the study, researchers examined results from 976 Chinese adults over a period of 5 years. Patients underwent a series of cognitive quizzes. After the analysis of the data, the scientists found that higher variability was associated with faster decline of brain function.
Researchers suggest that the findings of this study add to a growing body of evidence that such blood pressure fluctuations can indicate the higher risk of additional health problems.