March 28, 2023

THE BALL – Alzheimer’s disease: physical exercise helps delay cognitive decline (article Vítor Rosa, 223) (University Space)

Irisin (a hormone and protein released by exercise) is believed to help strengthen short-term memory, thereby preventing cognitive decline. According to an international study published in the journal Nature Medicine, the proteins and hormones released by exercise can delay the onset of diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

According to information available on the website of the Portuguese Association of Families and Friends of Alzheimer’s Patients, “Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes a global, progressive and irreversible deterioration of various cognitive functions (memory, attention, concentration, language, thinking, among others). This deterioration results in changes in the person’s behaviour, personality and functional ability, making it difficult to carry out their daily activities.’ Augusto Cury tells us, in “Never give up on your dreams” (Bertrand, 2016), “From a scientific point of view, nothing is as drastic for memory and the world of ideas as the collapse of the brain. Memory is disorganized, billions of pieces of information are lost, thoughts are detached from reality, consciousness sinks into the void of unconsciousness. Everything and nothing become the same thing’ (p. 43).

To conclude that irisin could help fight cognitive decline, the researchers worked on mice. When they analyzed them, they noticed that rodents with lower-than-average levels of irisin in the brain had short-term memory problems and less ability to strengthen their synapses, the connections between neurons that support the flow of information and memory recall in the brain. . Another important observation to note is this: when the irisin signals were blocked, the rodents did not benefit from the cognitive boost normally produced by exercise. This protein is therefore key to a strong memory, the study notes. “Our findings suggest that irisin could be a new treatment to prevent dementia in at-risk patients. It also delays the progression of the disease in patients at more advanced stages,” the researchers emphasize. While some scientific advances have been made, it is still noted that the mechanisms through which irisin affects brain function remain unclear. Therefore, more research is needed.

This study is not the first to highlight the benefits of physical exercise on the brain and memory. In 2016, American researchers found that physically active people had more developed gray matter than sedentary people, thus reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In their study, the scientists observed a reduced risk of dementia among seniors who enjoy gardening, those who prefer cycling to driving, and those who enjoy swimming. They also observed that people who already had the disease or a mild cognitive deficit could delay cognitive decline through playing sports. The more calories patients burn, the less gray matter they lose in the areas of the brain responsible for memory and cognition.

Victor Rosa

Sociologist, Postdoctorate in Sociology and Sports Sciences, Doctorate in Physical Education and Sports, Teaching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *