A new study from Goethe University Frankfurt revealed that engaging in regular Physical Exercise could have a positive effect on brain metabolism and memory, reducing the risk of dementia.

The study, published in the journal Nature Translational Psychiatry, showed that regular physical activity helps reduce the loss of nerve cells by maintaining the concentration of the certain metabolite in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The SMART study

For the study, the researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 60 participants in the Sport and Metabolism in Older Persons, an MRT Study (SMART study).

Using magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), the researchers measured the brain structure and brain metabolism of each participant. The researchers also assessed the participants’ movement-related parameters, cardiopulmonary fitness, and cognitive performance.

The participants were randomly assigned to either intervention group or control group. Participants in the intervention group were asked to undergo three sessions of 30-minute supervised cycle ergometer training for 12 weeks.

While the intervention group began their physical training just six days after the initial examination, participants in the control group waited for 12 weeks before they start the intervention. Both groups were asked to continue the exercise regimen for three months.

Physical exercise helps prevent nerve loss

At the end of the program, the participants were reexamined to determine the effects of physical exercise to brain metabolism.

Interestingly, regular physical exercise was able to maintain the concentration of a metabolite known as choline. The concentration of choline often rises as a result of the increased loss of nerve cells. The increased concentration of choline typically occurs in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Aside from having stable cerebral choline concentrations, participants in the intervention group showed increased cardiac efficiency after the training period.

Alzheimer’s is one of the leading cause of death in America

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 5.4 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. CDC listed Alzheimer’s as the sixth leading cause of death among all adults. At present, scientists have not yet pinpointed the exact cause of Alzheimer’s and other types of Dementia.

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