Critical Roles for Exercise and Diet in Aging,
Depression Found in New Research
As humans live longer, experiences, choices
throughout life actively impact the brain and these choices also affect
aging and quality of life - what to do
11, 2013 - New studies released today underscore the potential impact of
healthy lifestyle choices in treating depression, the effects of aging,
and learning and point to ways to improve your lifestyle. The research focused on
the effects of mind/body awareness, exercise, and diet, and was
presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for
Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain
science and health.
The experiences and choices people make throughout
life actively impact the brain. As humans live longer, these choices
also affect aging and quality of life. Lifestyle changes to diet and
exercise will be important to aging populations as non-drug,
easy-to-follow interventions with few side effects make ideal potential
Today's new findings show that:
• As few as 12
consecutive days of exercise in aging rats helps preserve and improve
movement function, an effect possibly caused by changes in dopamine. The
results suggest that exercise could stave off or reverse the slowed
movements that are hallmarks of age (Jennifer Arnold, abstract 334.02,
see attached summary).
• Practices like
yoga or meditation that increase mind/body awareness help people learn a
brain-computer interface quicker. This finding may have implications for
those who need brain-computer interfaces to function, such as people
with paralysis (Bin He, PhD, abstract 16.06, see attached summary).
exercise in aging rats improves memory function, as well as increases
the number of blood vessels in the white matter of their brains — the
tracts that carry information between different areas of the brain.
Increased blood flow may explain why exercise can help preserve memory
(Yong Tang, MD, PhD, abstract 236.09, see attached summary).
supervised exercise helped young adults with depression overcome their
symptoms in a pilot study. The results suggest that exercise could be an
important treatment for depression in adolescents (Robin Callister, PhD,
abstract 13.02, see attached summary).
• A low calorie
diet starting in middle-age onward protected rats against the effects of
aging on movement. The results suggest that dietary interventions can
help preserve movement function in a manner similar to exercise (Michael
Salvatore, PhD, abstract 334.17, see attached summary).
"We all know that keeping fit is critically
important to a healthy lifestyle, from combating the effects of aging to
boosting our mood," said press conference moderator Teresa Liu-Ambrose
of the University of British Columbia, who is an expert on exercise and
its role in healthy aging. "Today's results begin to show us not only
how different types of exercise interventions can improve our lives, but
how other types of lifestyle behaviors, from diet to meditative
practice, can help us achieve wellness in our body and our brain as we
This research was supported by national funding
agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private
and philanthropic organizations. Find more information on exercise and
brain wellness at
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