A large number of studies have shown that physical exercise has a certain effect on preventing cognitive decline and dementia after aging. Now, researchers from the University of Goethe have discovered for the first time the effects of physical exercise on metabolic activity in the brain.
To further understand the effects of physical exercise on the brain, the researchers examined changes in brain metabolism and memory in 60 volunteers after regular exercise. These participants were aged 65-85. The results show that regular physical exercise can not only enhance physical fitness, but also effectively promote the metabolic activities of the brain.
The results were published in Translational Psychiatry, and the volunteers included in the institute came from the SMART project (Sport and Metabolism in Older Persons, an MRT Study). The authors examined exercise-related parameters, cardiopulmonary function, and cognitive ability of participants, and used magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to detect brain metabolism and structural characteristics. During the test, participants were asked to perform cycling training about 30 minutes three times a week for a total of 12 weeks. At the end of the exercise period, the volunteers were tested again to analyze the effects of exercise on changes in brain metabolism and brain structure. In addition, the researchers also analyzed the effects of differences in the degree of training on enhancing people’s physical fitness. The research was conducted by a team of Professor Johannes Pantel from the General Medical School and a team of Professor Winfried Banzer from the Department of Sports Medicine.
In line with expectations, researchers have found that physical activity can affect the metabolic activity of the brain: it can mainly inhibit the upregulation of choline. Elevated choline usually causes massive loss of neurons, which often occurs during the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, regular physical exercise can maintain choline content at a relatively stable level. In conclusion, this study shows that physical exercise can not only enhance physical fitness, but also protect neuronal cells from damage.