I sometimes wonder if the people who write newspaper headlines ever actually ever read the articles.
A small amount of exercise may improve our ability to think as we age, but more may not be better, according to a new study of exercise and cognition.
We all know that working out is good for us. But precisely how much or how little exercise is needed to gain various health benefits, and whether the same dose of exercise that bolsters heart health, for instance, is also ideal for the brain has remained unclear.
You would think from the opening paragraphs that too much exercise might be bad for your aging brain.
As it turns out, there really isn’t anything such as too much exercise for your brain.
They chose these volunteers, said Dr. Jeffrey Burns, the co-director of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the study’s senior author, because the men and women had reached the age at which many of us begin to develop the first worrisome declines in our memory and thinking skills.
I’m younger the age range studied yet I wonder about my memory and thinking skills often.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, The participants were split up into four groups. The control group continued with their lives a couch potatoes. One group exercised 75 minutes per week, a second for 150 minutes a week, and the third for 225 hours per week. All of the active participants walked on a treadmill or elliptical machine several times a week.
So, what were the results?
After 26 weeks, all of the participants returned to the lab to repeat the original tests.
At this point, the groups displayed notable differences, especially in the physical realm. The more someone had exercised, the more his or her endurance capacity had increased, which was hardly a surprise. The volunteers in the control group were no more fit than they had been; those in the group exercising for 75 minutes per week were somewhat more fit; those exercising for 150 minutes per week were fitter still; and those walking for 225 minutes per week were the most fit of all.
“There was a very clear dose-response relationship” between walking and fitness, Dr. Burns said.
They needed a study to figure out that people who exercised were more fit than those that didn’t. And that those who exercised more were in better shape.
I really need to get in on this studying the obvious racket.
But, as is so often the case, I digress.
What about memory?
In general, the researchers found, most of the exercisers showed improvements in their thinking skills, especially in their ability to control their attention and to create visual maps of spaces in their heads, two aspects of cognition that are known to decline with age.
But these gains were about the same whether people had exercised for 75 minutes a week or 225 minutes. Those volunteers who had exercised the most scored slightly better on some cognitive tests at the end of the study period than those exercising less, but the difference was barely significant.
Exercise done properly is good for both your body and your brain. Which makes sense, even without a study.
To that end, he and his colleagues are working on an ambitious study to determine just how much and what types of exercise might help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, though it is unclear whether exercise can actually help prevent the disease. The results won’t be available for some time.
So, they are going to do a study to see if another study is needed to determine a precise amount of exercise is needed to prevent diseases of the brain.
If there a specific number and if that number is the same for all people over 65.
Here is the bottom lime. Exercise is good for you. More is better than less, as long as you don’t overdo it and hurt yourself.
Here is how this relates to EMS. Most people in EMS (myself included) don’t get enough exercise. Now that I’m not in EMS directly, I have the time to exercise and I do. What I should have done when I was working was make some time, even if it was only 20 minutes a day, for exercise. You don’t have to live at the gym, lift a million pounds, run a marathon every month, to improve your health. Just do something.
You don’t need a study for that.