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A new study conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder has revealed that just a "small amount" of physical exercise can protect the elderly from long-term memory loss that can occur due to injury, illness or infection.
The researchers observed the results in middle-aged rats, which ran a half-kilometer each week and received substantial benefits to their mental health.
"Strikingly, this small amount of running was sufficient to confer robust benefits for those that ran over those that did not run," researcher Ruth 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."
This could have significant implications for dementia patients, too, who often start to develop the disease after a bout with infection, according to researchers.
This seems to correlate with findings from another study that showed people who were genetically at risk for Alzheimer's disease but remained physically active reduced their risk for the condition, according to PhysOrg.com.