New studies released today underscore the
potential impact of healthy lifestyle choices in treating depression, the
effects of ageing, and learning. 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 ageing 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 therapies.
New findings show that:
- As few as 12 consecutive days of exercise
in ageing 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.
- 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.
- Long-term exercise in ageing 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
- Regular, 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
- A low calorie diet starting in middle-age
onward protected rats against the effects of ageing on movement. The results
suggest that dietary interventions can help preserve movement function in a
manner similar to exercise.
fit is critical
We all know that keeping fit is critically
important to a healthy lifestyle, from combating the effects of ageing 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 ageing. "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 behaviours, from diet to meditative practice, can help us achieve
wellness in our body and our brain as we age."