People who take up running in their teens are less likely to develop dementia later in life, according to the recent study published in the Journal eNeuro.
The study was conducted on the young rats, the young rats with access to running wheel show improved memory later in life and increased activity of neurons generated in adulthood.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. A person with dementia may also experience changes in mood or behavior.
Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse as more brain cells become damaged and eventually die.
The analysis of research revealed that exercise early in life may help to protect against age-related cognitive decline. Early life interventions that increase physical activity may, therefore, help to build up this reserve, potentially delaying the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
According to the researchers, six-weeks of voluntary running, beginning at one month of age in rats, was sufficient to induce a long-term effect on learning and memory of a fear response that depends on newly generated neurons in the hippocampus in adulthood.
They also revealed that the activity of the adult-born neurons was enhanced compared to those acquired during development and to those of rats housed in a standard cage without a running wheel.
The findings are consistent with the idea of cognitive reserve, whereby the brain draws on enriching experiences from youth to compensate for functional declines as a result of age or disease.