This Can Help "Stop" Dementia, New Study Says
Dementia is one the most feared disorders associated with aging, and the trepidation is understandable: The progressive brain disease can interfere with thinking, understanding and judgment—and progress to the point that it interferes with a person's ability to live an independent life. But research indicates there are things you can do to slash your risk of developing dementia. Here's one of the most important. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is the term for a number of brain disorders that involve changes to thinking, remembering and reasoning. They include:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
Dementia is a progressive disease. There is currently no cure, although in some cases its progression can be slowed. Ultimately, it interferes with a person's ability to function and live an independent life. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 6.2 million Americans.
But one thing you can easily do each day may reduce your risk of dementia, or slow it if you already have the condition, a new study has found.
This Might Stop Dementia
In a study published last week in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, researchers found that exercise seems to boost levels of a protein that enables communication between brain cells, potentially preventing dementia. The protective effect of exercise was even found in older people whose brains contained a buildup of toxic debris known as plaques and tangles, which are associated with dementia.
The scientists studied the brains of older people—on average, between 70 and 80 years old—who had donated their organs to science as part of the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University in Chicago. As part of that study, participants reported how much regular physical activity they undertook in their later years.
The study found that people who were more physically active had more of the protective proteins. "The more physical activity, the higher the synaptic protein levels in brain tissue. This suggests that every movement counts when it comes to brain health," study author Kaitlin Casaletto, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California San Francisco, told CNN.
How Might Exercise Prevent Dementia?
The protein boosted by exercise seems to work on synapses, the gaps between brain cells. For the brain to transmit messages effectively, they must cross those gaps.
Synapses are the critical communicating junctions between nerve cells and are really where the magic happens when it comes to cognition," said Casaletto.
Finding Supports Previous Research
Previous studies have shown that regular exercise might reduce risk of developing dementia by 30% to 80%. But the reason why is unclear. This new study may have shed some light. "We have described, for the first time in humans, that synaptic functioning may be a pathway through which physical activity promotes brain health." said Casaletto.
"I think these findings begin to support the dynamic nature of the brain in response to our activities, and the capacity of the elderly brain to mount healthy responses to activity even into the oldest ages."
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