Tuesday April 7, 2020

Regular Exercise can Prevent Brain Shrinkage in Older Adults: Study

Exercise may slow brain aging in older adults

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Adults brain
Regular walking, gardening, swimming and dancing may slow brain aging and prevent brain shrinkage in older adults. Pixabay

Regular walking, gardening, swimming and dancing may slow brain aging and prevent brain shrinkage in older adults, say health and lifestyle researchers.

The study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure the brains of people with a range of activity levels, including those who were inactive to those who were very active. The scans showed less active people had smaller brain volume, the researchers said.

“These results are exciting, as they suggest that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by becoming more active,” said study author Yian Gu from Columbia University in the US. Recent studies have shown that as people age, physical activity may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

“Our study used brain scans to measure the brain volumes of a diverse group of people and found that those who engaged in the top third highest level of physical activity had a brain volume the equivalent of four years younger in brain aging than people who were at the bottom third activity level,” Gu added.

The study involved 1,557 people with an average age of 75. None had dementia, but 296 people had mild cognitive impairment and 28 per cent had the APOE gene that is linked to a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Adults brain
Less active adults have a smaller brain volume. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Participants were given physical exams, thinking and memory tests, and were asked about their daily tasks and other physical activities. Researchers then calculated how much time and energy each person spent on those tasks and activities.

Researchers divided people into three groups: those who were inactive; those who were somewhat active meaning each week they either had roughly two-and-a-half hours of low-intensity physical activity, one-and-a-half hours of moderate physical activity or one hour of high-intensity physical activity; and those who were most active meaning each week they either had seven hours of low-intensity physical activity, four hours of moderate physical activity or two hours of high-intensity physical activity.

Researchers then reviewed MRI brain scans of all participants and found that when compared to the people in the inactive group, those who were most active had larger total brain volume. “Our results add to the evidence that more physical activity is linked to larger brain volume in older people,” said Gu.

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“It also builds on evidence that moving your body more often throughout one’s life may protect against loss of brain volume,” Gu added. The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada from April 25 to May 1. (IANS)

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Physical Abuse During Childhood May Lead To Heavy Cigarette Use: Study

The researchers used their responses about smoking between the ages of 12 and 18 to identify three patterns of cigarette use

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Cigarettes
Adolescent cigarette smoking is a really serious social problem and public health concern. Pixabay

Researchers have found that children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected at home are more likely to start smoking cigarette and other substances.

The study, published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, showed that physical abuse of children in high-risk homes, especially when they’re toddlers or teens, dramatically increases the odds that their adolescent experimentation with cigarettes will lead to a heavy smoking habit.

For the findings, the study examined data on children who were at high risk for abuse and neglect — either because they had been referred to a child protective service or lived in conditions associated with the likelihood of maltreatment or both. “I wanted to look at different types of maltreatment and whether they have an impact on cigarette smoking,” said study lead author Susan Yoon, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University in the US.

“Adolescent cigarette smoking is a really serious social problem and public health concern. Brain development is not complete until late adolescence or during young adulthood, and cigarette smoking is associated with damage in brain development,” Yoon said.

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“We also know that those who start smoking cigarettes during adolescence are more likely to continue smoking into adulthood,” Yoon added. For the results, the research team used data on 903 adolescents, who were assessed at age 12, 16 and 18.

A breakdown of different types of abuse and neglect experienced by the sample population during three different time periods (early childhood, school age and adolescence) confirmed how vulnerable these kids were.

The researchers used their responses about smoking between the ages of 12 and 18 to identify three patterns of cigarette use: stable low/no use (61 per cent of respondents), gradually increasing use (30 per cent) and sharply increasing cigarette use (nine per cent).

“It was almost shocking how the pattern of cigarette use over time went up so drastically in the sharply increasing use class,” Yoon said.

Smoking
Researchers have found that children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected at home are more likely to start smoking cigarettes and other substances. Pixabay

“They were pretty similar to the others at age 12 — almost 80 percent didn’t smoke. At age 16, we saw that almost 60 per cent had used cigarettes more than 20 days in the past year and by 18, every single kid in this group reported heavy use of cigarettes,” Yoon added.

A statistical analysis showed that adolescents who experienced early childhood physical abuse were 2.3 times more likely to be in the sharply increasing cigarette use group compared with the stable no/low group. Physical abuse during adolescence had an even stronger effect — this type of mistreatment at that point in life was linked to 3.7 times higher odds for sharply increased cigarette use. Adolescents who had been neglected during early childhood were 1.89 times more likely to be in the gradually increasing cigarette use group than in the stable no/low use group.

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About 40 per cent of these smokers had reported using cigarettes at age 16, and by age 18, more than 80 per cent were smokers, and about 40 per cent had smoked on more than 20 days in the previous year, the study said. (IANS)