Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Taking walks good even if you're ancient

Exercise=good. We get it. As you age and get creakier or experience constant pain from arthritis or fear your balance is going to land you on the sidewalk, walking is more of a challenge.

Now, research in Neurology (online version) says exercise can maintain physical ability, even if mental agility diminishes. The latter may be due to "white matter hypersensitivities."

And -- the converse--exercise may slow brain damage.

Previous studies postulated that better brain activity from exercise came from improved blood flow.

One hundred sixty-seven participants with an average age of 80 wore movement monitors over a span of 11 days.

The 10% most active people racked up levels of 1.5 hours a day of walking.

For the most active, the white matter hypersensitivities did not appear to affect the movement tests.

But--for those with less movement, greater amounts of brain damage were associated with significantly lower scores in the movement tests.

The researchers believe this may mean that exercise makes neural networks more resilient.

Since even middle-aged people have significant white matter hypersensitivities--is it time to hit the hiking trail? Or hobble to it?

What the heck is a white matter hypersensitivity? I may need a walk.

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