Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
on November 11, 2013
New research introduced at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience shows that the choices people make tand their experiences throughout life actively impact the brain.
And, as humans live longer, these choices also affect aging and quality of life.
During the conference, experts presented evidence showing that lifestyle changes in diet and exercise should be viewed as analogous to drug therapies, yet without the side-effects.
Findings presented at the conference include:
- 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;
- 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 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;
- 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 adolescents;
- 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.
“We all know that keeping fit is critically important to a healthy lifestyle, from combating the effects of aging to boosting our mood,” said Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia, 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 age.”
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Nauert, R. (2013). Animal, Human Studies Show How Lifestyle Impacts Long-term Health. Psych Central.
Retrieved on March 7, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/11/11/animal-human-studies-show-how-lifestyle-impacts-long-term-health/61886.html