After reviewing over 1,600 papers, researchers from the Mayo Clinic state that, “You can make a very compelling argument for exercise as a disease-modifying strategy to prevent dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and for favorably modifying these processes once they have developed.” Author and neurologist Dr. J. Eric Ahlskog lead the effort that included the review of all scientific papers on the subject of exercise and cognition, including observational studies and studies done with animals.
This exercise includes traditional gym-based cardiovascular exercises, as well as other activities like walking and performing household chores, including yard work and shoveling snow. Through the use of brain scans the researchers have found that exercise preserves the integrity of the human brain and note that animal studies show that exercise improves the function of the brain and increases the connection between brain cells.
The review also found that there is a significant reduction of risk of dementia in people who being exercise during midlife and a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Aerobic exercise improved the cognitive function of healthy adults, and with seniors aerobics was linked to a smaller loss of age related gray matter.
The researchers concluded, “Exercise should not be overlooked as an important therapeutic strategy. Whether addressing our patients in primary care or neurology clinics, we should continue to encourage exercise for not only general health, but also cognitive health.”
All-in-all, this is yet another instance that proves exercise is the best disease-modifying strategy known to medical science. Better than diet, pharmaceuticals or any other intervention. Everybody should exercise.