Certain exercises linked to improved blood flow in key brain regions

It's no secret that aerobic exercise can help protect and even improve brain health, and now a new study can potentially explain why. According to researchers with UT Southwestern Medical Center, aerobic exercise may improve blood flow in two key parts of the brain. This may be particularly beneficial for older adults who are risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Both of the brain regions that experience an increase in blood flow are linked to memory, according to the study, which involved 30 participants who were 60 years or older. Of those participants, half were tasked with spending one year undergoing aerobic exercise training, while the other 30 participants only did stretching.

In comparison with the stretching group, the aerobic exercise group experienced a collective 47-percent boost in certain memory scores. Both the hippocampus and the cingulate cortex experienced improved blood flow linked to the exercise protocol, indicating that this type of activity may play an important role in preserving memory.

Dementia is a complex disease that cannot, at this point in time, be prevented. Ample research has taken place that aims to identify early markers of the disease, ways to slow its progress, and even potential cures for individuals who are already suffering memory loss. The effort is viewed as critical as populations live to older ages and the number of dementia cases grows rapidly.

Past research has found that both genetics and lifestyle factors play a role in dementia, and while one cannot change their genes, they can modify their diet and get more activity. Though one may not be able to prevent dementia or Alzheimer's by simply exercising, it could play an important role in the overall effort to reduce disease risk.