A small amount of physical exercise could shield the elderly from long-term memory loss following an infection, illness or injury, according to a new study.
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.
"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," she added.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience.