Effects Of Exercise On Brain Health

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There is ample evidence to demonstrate that through the normal ageing process alterations to the brain in structure and function are directly related to cognitive changes (Glisky, 2007). With an increasing ageing population strategies for prevention of disease and age related cognitive decline are necessary to improve quality of life and reduce the associated healthcare costs (Australian Government Productivity Commission [AGPC], 2013). Physical exercise is known to be crucial in maintaining physiological health; it can also be used as a means of neuroprotection and assist in modifiable risk factors for improved brain health and subsequent cognitive function. This review will critically analyse current research into the effects of exercise…show more content…
Smith et al. (2013) took a less studied approach to improving cognitive decline by testing the effects of aerobic exercise on adults (60-88 years old) already suffering from cognitive impairment. After 12 weeks of moderate exercise there was an improvement of memory and neural efficiency across all subjects. As discussed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference [AAIC] (2012), elderly people who had reduced cadence, velocity and stride length of just 1.7cm were seen to have greater declines in cognition, memory and executive function. These gait related restrictions were associated with an overall smaller brain volume (Bridenbaugh & Kressig, 2013). Having reduced mobility results in an accelerated cognitive decline as being in the same environment regularly provides little stimulus to keep the mind active. Gait restriction can be improved through physical therapy and although it may not increase lost brain volume it can assist in reducing the effects of further decline (Patla, 1991). Due to the inconsistency between studies there is no definitive exercise dosage or type that can aid in protection against dementia. However, from the evidence provided it suggests that higher levels of exercise can be used as a neuroprotective mechanism to prevent the onset of
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