Aerobic exercise can improve memory function and maintain brain health as we age, a new Australian-led study has found.
In a first of its kind international collaboration, researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University and the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the UK examined the effects of aerobic exercise on a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critical for memory and other brain functions.
Brain health decreases with age, with the average brain shrinking by approximately five per cent per decade after the age of 40.
Studies in mice and rats have consistently shown that physical exercise increases the size of the hippocampus but until now evidence in humans has been inconsistent.
The researchers systematically reviewed 14 clinical trials which examined the brain scans of 737 people before and after aerobic exercise programs or in control conditions.
The participants included a mix of healthy adults, people with mild cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s and people with a clinical diagnosis of mental illness including depression and schizophrenia. Ages ranged from 24 to 76 years with an average age of 66.
The researchers examined effects of aerobic exercise, including stationary cycling, walking, and treadmill running. The length of the interventions ranged from three to 24 months with a range of 2-5 sessions per week.
Overall, the results – published in the journal NeuroImage – showed that, while exercise had no effect on total hippocampal volume, it did significantly increase the size of the left region of the hippocampus in humans.
Lead author, NICM postdoctoral research fellow, Joseph Firth said the study provides some of the most definitive evidence to date on the benefits of exercise for brain health.
“When you exercise you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,” Mr. Firth said.
“Our data showed that, rather than actually increasing the size of the hippocampus per se, the main ‘brain benefits’ are due to aerobic exercise slowing down the deterioration in brain size. In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain.”
Mr. Firth said along with improving regular ‘healthy’ aging, the results have implications for the prevention of aging-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia – however further research is needed to establish this.
Interestingly, physical exercise is one of the very few ‘proven’ methods for maintaining brain size and functioning into older age.
The paper, “Effects of aerobic exercise on hippocampal volume in humans: a systematic review and meta-analysis” is available online here.
They have discovered the secret of longevity and it is not a rejection of bad habits
Most often, centenarians wonder what they eat and what their lifestyle is. It usually turns out that neither cigarettes nor alcohol prevent them especially from reaching adulthood. Also, longevity is not affected by special diets.
Now, scientists are learning that the key to longevity is not a lifestyle, but the presence of a special immune system. Seven Japanese superlongs have been found in the blood of more than ordinary whites T cells or CD4 cells that “hunt” viruses and cancer cells.
Each has a significant amount of these cells. These are the so-called T-helper or T-lymphocyte. They help other white blood cells fight infections.
But firstly, in the blood of these perennials are found much more than the norm of these T-cells and secondly, they have been so “toxic” that, in addition to infections, they aim to find and destroy potential cancer cells.
Such an immune system has helped these centenarians to live for over a hundred years without any problems. These people do not even have heart diseases.
This important study was conducted by specialists at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medicine in Japan, Keio University (Keio University).
The lead scientist of the study – Dr. Kosuke Hashimoto says:
“Long-lived people usually spend their entire lives in good health. Their strong immune system protects them perfectly against tumors and infections. “
It seems that having such an immune system in the body is an innate genetic trait that gives these people a great advantage.
Some of the oldest people on the planet, such as Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment and American Richard Overton, have smoked and abused alcohol throughout their lives that has not affected their health.
Jeanne Kalman died in 1997, at the age of 122. You can find her pictures on the internet during her 117th birthday celebration. They are seen smoking as a steam engine and in good health. In addition, Kalman adored wine, olive oil and chocolate, considering these habits as key to her longevity.
Richard Overton died at the age of 112.
Other centenarians say the key to sound health is through special diets, exercise, regular work, regular sex, avoiding stress, praying, observing moral principles, bathing frequently in hot tubs and even eating pig feet. In essence, all this turns out to be self-belief.
Pierre Carnancy, Deputy Director of the RIKEN Center says:
“We believe that the type of cells we find is a true guarantee of many years of life and good health, protecting organs from cancer and other diseases.”
That study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Richard Dawkins: “Not accepting the theory of evolution is crazy!”
The great ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popularizer of modern science, Richard Dawkins, in 2012, met with Archbishop Rowan Williams on one of the airwaves, who convinced and continues to convince everyone around that life on Earth appeared by the will of God.
Richard Dawkins carefully listened to the archbishop’s fantasies and conjectures, and then told his interlocutor about the theory of evolution and told the details of the origin of life on Earth. Airtime was limited, so Dawkins presented the information in a compressed form, but that was enough.
“I am inspired by the elegance of your explanation. Your arguments are beautiful and I can even agree with some of the above. However, the Universe, creating a person, was guided by clear principles and this can speak of a certain higher mind, ”said Rowan Williams.
“I can’t understand why believers do not want to see beauty in the fact that life could have been born from scratch and absolutely by accident. Isn’t that a stunning and not a great idea? Why does everything need to be distorted? Not accepting the theory of evolution is crazy, ”Dawkins responded.
The discussion between the archbishop and the scholar lasted more than an hour and at the end of the dialogue Dawkins admitted that on a 7-point scale he considers himself an atheist at 6.9. In other words, Richard Dawkins will be ready to believe in God if believers provide irrefutable evidence.
Fossil tooth sheds light on world’s largest ape
Image Credit: The Jungle Book – Mowgli And King Louie ©2015 Disney
That is one enormous ape.
Standing up to three meters tall, Gigantopithecus was the largest ape to ever walk the face of the Earth.
More than twice the size of today’s great apes, this enormous primate was a veritable King Kong – a gargantuan hulking beast that would have put even the legendary Bigfoot to shame.
The species lived across parts of what is now Southern Asia and roamed the planet from around nine million years ago until its disappearance somewhere around 100,000 years ago.
Now scientists have succeeded in learning more about this prehistoric giant thanks to the discovery of a two million-year-old fossil tooth in a cave in China.
Incredibly, they were able to obtain skeletal protein samples from the tooth despite its extreme age.
It turns out that Gigantopithecus was actually related to today’s orangutans.
“It would have been a distant cousin (of orangutans), in the sense that its closest living relatives are orangutans, compared to other living great apes such as gorillas or chimpanzees or us,” said Dr Frido Welker from the University of Copenhagen.
It is hoped that tooth protein analysis could help scientists learn more from other fossils as well.
“This study suggests that ancient proteins might be a suitable molecule surviving across most of recent human evolution even for areas like Africa or Asia and we could thereby in the future study our own evolution as a species over a very long time span,” said Dr Welker.
Source: BBC News
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