Endurance sports can protect the brain from cognitive decay

Endurance sports can protect the brain from cognitive decay

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Doctors are trying to stop age-related cognitive decline
As we age, our memory and brain slowly degrade. Are there ways to stop or slow down this natural age-related cognitive decline? Researchers have now found that exercise and any type of exercise that increases heart rate over a longer period of time can have beneficial effects on the brain and protect against cognitive decline.

A team of scientists from the University of Maryland, Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin found that so-called aerobic exercise can slow down age-related cognitive decline. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of Alzheimer's Disease" (JAD).

Aerobic exercise can improve general mood
So-called aerobic exercises have a positive effect on the health of the heart and brain. Some of the advantages already appear after a short bike ride, such as an improvement in the general mood. Other advantages can only be determined after certain exercises have been carried out for a period of several weeks, the authors explain. When they were examined, the subjects had to perform aerobic exercises for 12 weeks. In the investigation, the scientists actually wanted to find out whether regular aerobic exercises could have a positive effect on mild cognitive impairment.

Exercises to increase heart rate can be beneficial for the human brain
The results show that the best type of fitness for your mind is any type of aerobic exercise. These should be carried out regularly and consistently for at least 45 minutes. Research published in the spring already showed that any type of exercise to increase the heart rate has beneficial effects on the human brain. Such exercises are also known as aerobic exercises, the doctors add.

Physical activity helps against depression
Depending on the health benefits you want to achieve, you should carry out various sporting exercises. You can simply integrate a brisk walk or jogging into your everyday life. For example, it is sufficient for people with depression to walk 30 minutes on a treadmill for ten days in a row, the scientists say. This would achieve a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.

Aerobic exercises could be used to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression
Regular aerobic exercise causes remarkable changes in your body, metabolism, heart and mood, the authors explain. Such exercises have the unique ability to intoxicate and relax. For example, stimulation and relaxation would reduce depression and stress. Endurance athletes also benefit from these advantages. Clinical studies have shown that aerobic exercise can be used successfully to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression.

What are the benefits?
Researchers are still not sure why these types of exercises are so beneficial to the brain. The benefits could have to do with an increased blood flow, which supplies the brain with fresh energy and oxygen, the presumption. The exercises resulted in increased connectivity in ten regions of the brain. The observed protective effects of aerobic exercises on cognition can possibly be explained by the improvement of the neuronal recruiting mechanisms, the doctors write. This may increase the so-called cognitive reserve.

Aerobic exercises reduce the levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol
Aerobic exercise can also help people who are not suffering from clinical depression. Those affected feel less stressed by the exercises, which is triggered by the reduced levels of the body's stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, the experts add. (as)

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