Endurance sports strengthen the brain in old age

Endurance sports strengthen the brain in old age

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Regular endurance exercise improves brain performance

Endurance sports are known for their preventive effects against diseases of the cardiovascular system. However, current studies indicate that the brains of senior citizens also benefit significantly from regular endurance sports, reports Norbert Smetak, Chairman of the Federal Association of Resident Cardiologists (BNK).

"Regular endurance sports are known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, but apparently it also helps to maintain the cognitive performance of the brain in older age," the BNK said. The association relies on the results of a current study published online in the specialist magazine "Neurobiology of Aging". They found that "there is a direct connection between cardiorespiratory fitness, the elasticity of the main artery (aorta) and brain function." The brain could therefore benefit significantly from regular endurance sports in old age.

Improved vascular elasticity through regular endurance sports "Older adults (between the ages of 55 to 75 years) who were better physically trained had a smoother aorta and performed better in a cognitive test than less fit study participants," reports the BNK of the current test results . BNK chairman Norbert Smetak explained that blood vessels lose their elasticity with increasing age and increasingly stiffen them. The first thing to do is to demonstrate this aging process "in the aorta, which supplies the brain and other body organs with oxygen-enriched blood from the heart." Endurance sports can counteract vascular aging, "because, among other things, increased blood flow during physical activity promotes the elasticity of the vessels" , says Smetak. The improved vascular elasticity "also guarantees a better oxygen supply to the brain and thus apparently maintains its performance better than with those with a lack of movement," the cardiologist further explained. There are certainly other causes for declining brain function in old age, "but maintaining vascular elasticity is one of the mechanisms that makes the anti-aging effect of endurance sports on the heart and brain easy to understand." (Fp)

Image: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de

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