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Small amount of exercise could protect against memory loss in elderly, CU study suggests
Date:8/9/2011

221.10.254.64

A new University of Colorado Boulder study shows that a small amount of physical exercise could profoundly protect the elderly from long-term memory loss that can happen suddenly following infection, illnesses or injury in old age.

In the study, CU-Boulder Research Associate Ruth Barrientos and her colleagues showed that aging rats that ran just over half a kilometer each week were protected against infection-induced memory loss.

"Our research shows that a small amount of physical exercise by late middle-aged rats profoundly protects against exaggerated inflammation in the brain and long-lasting memory impairments that follow a serious bacterial infection," said Barrientos of the psychology and neuroscience department.

The results of the study will appear in the Aug. 10 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

"Strikingly, this small amount of running was sufficient to confer robust benefits for those that ran over those that did not run," Barrientos said. "This is an important finding because those of advanced age are more vulnerable to memory impairments following immune challenges such as bacterial infections or surgery. With baby boomers currently at retirement age, the risk of diminished memory function in this population is of great concern. Thus, effective noninvasive therapies are of substantial clinical value."

Past research has shown that exercise in humans protects against declines in cognitive function associated with aging and protects against dementia. Researchers also have shown that dementia is often preceded by bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, or other immune challenges.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show that voluntary exercise in rats reduces aging-induced susceptibility to the cognitive impairments that follow a bacterial infection, and the processes thought to underlie these impairments," Barrientos
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Contact: Ruth Barrientos
ruth.barrientos@colorado.edu
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert

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