As we age, the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle becomes ever more crucial, not just for our physical health, but for our cognitive health as well. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Zurich has illuminated the protective effect of physical and social activities on the entorhinal cortex, a vital area of the brain associated with memory.
The Protective Effects of Physical and Social Activities
Published in NeuroImage, the study explored the association between leisure activities and brain health in cognitively healthy adults over the age of 65. The findings were incredibly revealing, showing that physical and social activity can prevent a decrease in the thickness of the entorhinal cortex, which is intrinsically tied to memory performance. This suggests that physical exercise and an active social life are essential for brain health and can prevent neurodegeneration in later life.
Building a Cognitive Reserve
The study further supports the concept of a ‘cognitive reserve’ and the idea that the brain can be trained throughout life to counteract age-related decline. This cognitive reserve acts as a buffer against brain damage or diseases such as Alzheimer’s. By constantly challenging the brain with physical and social activities, we can build up this reserve and potentially delay the onset of such diseases.
Understanding the Neuroprotective Mechanism
Further supporting these findings, a study on the protective effects of Jujuboside B (JUB) on Aβ-induced neurotoxicity, especially in the context of Alzheimer’s disease, highlights the potential of JUB to improve learning and memory deficits, increase antioxidant activity, prevent lipid synthesis accumulation, and inhibit the toxic effects of Aβ. This study used network pharmacology to predict the neuroprotective mechanism of JUB, offering another potential avenue for preventing cognitive decline in old age.
The Role of Visual Stimulation
Moreover, a randomized controlled intervention trial investigated whether intense visual stimulation through television watching can enhance visual information processing and motor learning performance. The intervention group, which watched television for 8 hours a day, performed significantly better in the motor learning task and showed an increased capacity of visual short-term memory. This suggests that the human brain might enter a state of accentuated visuomotor integration to support the implementation of motor learning with visual information processing demands if challenged by ample input of visual stimulation.
Staying Active is Key
These findings underscore the importance of staying physically, mentally, and socially active throughout life, including in later life. So, whether it’s hitting the gym, joining a book club, or simply watching a bit of television, remember to keep your brain engaged as you age. It’s never too late to build up your cognitive reserve and protect your brain health. After all, an active body fosters an active mind.
Sarah Carter is a health and wellness expert residing in the UK. With a background in healthcare, she offers evidence-based advice on fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being, promoting healthier living for readers.