Physical Fitness Can Promote ‘Youthful’ Brain According to Research

Scientists at the University of Tsukuba in Japan have suggested that physical fitness can have an unexpected influence over brain capacity.

Researchers found that fitter men are able to access areas of the brain that are more associated with youth.

Thus, effectively increasing physical fitness can literally lead to a younger brain.

The study suggested that the left-side of the brain, which typically deals with short-term memory and the meaning of words, is used frequently in our younger years.

By contrast, the right-side of the brain becomes more favoured as we become older.

And scientists conducting the experiment found that fitter men were more able to utilise the youth- like, task-related sector of the brain.

Professor Hideaki Soya, one of the leading scientists in the study, suggested that white matter that connects the two sides of the brain retain better condition if someone is physically fitter.

“One possible explanation suggested by the research is that the volume and integrity of the white matter in the part of brain that links the two sides declines with age,” Soya stated.

The professor continued by commenting that the results of the survey are significant, but also emphasised that corroborative study will be required in order to determine the validity of its outcome.

“There is some evidence to support the theory that fitter adults are able to better maintain this white matter than less fit adults, but further study is needed to confirm this theory,” Soya explained.

A fairly small sample size of men aged between 64 and 75 years were showed a series of coloured cards during the experiment.

In order to confuse the brains of participants, the word of a different colour was written on top. Their ability to say the colour they can see, and not the word they can read, is the Stroop test of brain-function speed.

Participant fitness was also measured by documenting the level of oxygen present in the blood.

It was found that those with superior aerobic fitness consistently had shorter reaction times, leading researchers in the study to suggest that this may reflect more youthful brain structure.

Although the results of the study were certainly interesting, it is also important to note that no women were involved in the experiment, and thus it is not clear whether physical fitness can increase mental agility across both genders.

Typically the ability to complete the Stroop test accurately diminishes with age, but this research suggests that older people can engage in behaviours in order to improve their mental agility.

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Surge in Dementia Volunteers Promises Medical Breakthrough

As the UK government continues its attempts to address dementia, its plans have received a welcome boost.

The government has pledged to find a cure for the condition by 2025, owing to the massive demographic problems that dementia threatens in the future.

The number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to over 1 million by 2025, and over 2 million by 2051.

However, these figures are based on a worse case scenario, and the fundamental assumption that there are no public health interventions in the intervening years.

But despite the sheer scale of action required to address demential in Britain, some good news on the issue is evident.

There has been a large rise in the number of people volunteering to take part in research studies related to the condition.

Official figures show that over the last twelve months, 22,000 people have taken part in research studies related to dementia; a 60 per cent increase over the previous year.

The increased participation in research has been documented by he National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Currently, around 100 ground breaking dementia research projects are being conducted throughout the British Isles, and scientists state that the vastly increased volunteerism related to these will greatly assist the process of seeking a cure for dementia.

The rise in participation was in part triggered by the Challenge on Dementia and Dementia 2020 Challenge; both initiatives of the existing Conservative government.

These two programmes are intended to accelerate learning on the topic of dementia, with the overarching aim of discovering a cure by the end of the current decade.

Current research projects on dementia include testing whether antibiotics slow cognitive decline, investigating the role of the immune system in dementia, identifying genetic risk factors and improving end of life care for people with dementia.

Speaking on these encouraging developments, Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman welcomed the news.

“Dementia is a devastating condition that can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected and their families. Volunteers are essential to our battle against the disease and I’m delighted that so many people – with and without dementia – are coming forward to participate in ground-breaking new trials,” Freeman enthused.

Aside from the debilitating effects of the illness, there are also clear economic incentives to tackle demential as well.

The total cost of dementia in the UK annually is £26.3 billion, and research indicates that much of this expenditure is funded by dementia sufferers and their immediate family.

Two-thirds of the cost of dementia (£17.4 billion) is paid by people with dementia and their families, either in unpaid care or in paying for private social care.

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