Exercise Can Help Protect the Brain from Alzheimer’s Damage

Regular exercise could help prevent brain damage from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

Previous research has already shown that exercise after brain injuries can help repair damaged brain function. This latest study adds to those findings by showing that exercise before the onset of damage can also help protect neurons in the brain.

For the study, researchers from the National Institute of Health did experiments with mice that were exposed to a brain-damaging chemical. The mice that had been exercised regularly before exposure suffered less brain inflammation and did not show the same loss of function as mice that had not been exercised beforehand.

Researchers said that an immune messenger called interleukin-6, which is produced by exercised, helps to dampen harmful inflammation in the brain that leads to brain damage.

“Exercise allows the brain to rapidly produce chemicals that prevent damaging inflammation”, said Professor Jean Harry. “This could help us develop a therapeutic approach for early intervention in preventing damage to the brain.”

Drug-based therapies have so far been less successful in treating inflammation and cognitive decline in older adults and adults with brain-degenerating diseases.

The researchers hope that the finding that exercise can help protect the brain will encourage people to become more active.

The study was published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.