The coronavirus emergency has momentarily overshadowed other very important diseases. However, we believe that even now it is essential to talk about these topics, especially when new research is performed that could really help prevent, or at least slow down, diseases such as Alzheimer's illness. This is the case of a study published a few days ago in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease by a team of the Texan University of Southwestern (Thomas et al, May 2020) in which scientists were able to understand why exercise can act by protecting the brain and improving memory.
The researchers recruited 30 participants, all over 60 and with memory problems. 15 people were asked to do aerobic exercise sessions for 12 months. The other 15 people, considered as a control group, were asked to perform only stretching exercises. After 12 months, the group that did aerobic exercise had a 47% improvement in memory. But the most interesting part of the research was the brain imaging, taken always at rest at the beginning of the research and at the end. According to the brain imaging, after 1 year, those who had performed aerobic activity had an increase in blood flow in two very precise points of the brain, the hypotolamus and the anterior cingulate cortex, both involved in memory storage.
The study is limited, in fact, it was carried on a very small number of people. However, it is really very interesting since it not only allows to explain the beneficial action of physical exercise on brain health, until now only observed but not understood, but also because it shows that, even when memory is starting to decline, bringing a change in lifestyle, such as exercising, may result helpful.