Although not the first study to associate the benefits of exercise on the brain, it is unique in its use of Vo2 max. Vo2 max is a measure of a person's maximum oxygen consumption during aerobic exercise. This is an improved methodology when compared to self-report surveys and reduces reporting bias. The study looked at 81 individual’s Vo2 max tests, memory and reasoning tests, and examined their brain’s white matter. Examination of brain white matter can indicate how well areas of the brain are communicating. Of the 81 participants, 53 individuals had mild cognitive impairment, and the other 28 formed the control group. The study found that those with low Vo2 max scores had weaker white matter in MCI brains, specifically in areas involved with executive functions and memory. They also found that those with lower Vo2 max and weaker white matter performed worse on the memory and reasoning tests. Putting together these two pieces of evidence, researchers concluded that greater physical fitness correlates with healthy white matter, which in turn correlates with better memory and reasoning abilities. The study’s first author, Dr. Kan Ding states “This research supports the hypothesis that improving people's fitness may improve their brain health and slow down the aging process”. More research about exercise and dementia must be done to determine what amount of exercise is most beneficial, if certain types of exercise are better than others, and what age will still allow for protective benefits.
SOURCE: Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/02/20/study-finds-link-between-physical-fitness-and-brain-health/#27b4ad6c72c9
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad170415
DATE RETRIEVED: February 22, 2018