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Exercise Linked With Improved Brain Blood Flow and Cognitive Function

The onset of mild cognitive decline (MCI) is often accompanied by an increase in cerebral blood flow, as the brain tries to compensate for the inability to function properly. A new study suggests that exercise training may help reduce this compensatory blood flow and improve cognitive function in people with early MCI.


Participants in the study included 25 people between the ages of 61 and 88. Half of them had MCI and half did not. All of the participants underwent 12 weeks of exercise training that consisted of 4 30-minute sessions of moderate intensity treadmill walking per week. The researchers used and MRI scan to measure changes in cerebral blood flow in specific areas of the brain regions known to be involved in the progression of MCI.


The researchers found that participants with MCI had a decrease in cerebral blood flow, compared to an increase in the participants without MCI. Participants with MCI also showed improved working memory and verbal fluency following the exercise training. In addition, participants without MCI also saw significant improvements on the cognitive tests.


The study was conducted by researchers with the University of Maryland School of Public Health. It was published January 22, 2019 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.


 

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