According to researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt, regular physical exercise could not only enhance fitness, it could also have a positive impact on brain metabolism.

The SMART (Sport and Metabolism in Older Persons, an MRT Study) study, conducted by the Gerontology Department of the Institute of General Medicine (headed by Professor Johannes Pantel) and the Department of Sports Medicine (led by Professor Winfried Banzer), examined the effects of regular exercise on brain metabolism and memory among 60 participants aged between 65 and 85 years.

It was published recently in Translational Psychiatry, according to a media release from Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.

In the study, the researchers first assessed the participants’ movement-related parameters, cardiopulmonary fitness and cognitive performance, and measured their brain metabolism and brain structure using magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).

Then, the researchers asked the participants to use an exercise bike three times a week, for 30 minutes each, over a 12-week period. The sessions were individually adapted to each participant’s performance level. After the end of the 12-week period, the participants were examined again to document the effects of this physical activity on their brain metabolism, cognitive performance and brain structure.

The results suggest that the participants’ physical activity influenced their brain metabolism by preventing an increase in choline, per the release.

The amount of choline in one’s brain often rises as a result of the increased loss of nerve cells, which typically occurs in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Among the participants who exercised, their choline concentrations were stable. However, the choline levels increased in the control group (those who did not exercise).

Also according to the researchers, participants who exercised showed an increase in their cardiac efficiency after the 12-week training period.

[Source(s): Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Science Daily]