Setting an exercise routine such as a daily workout, brisk walk or run, and starting this at an early age not only prolongs the vitality of your body, but can have a lasting positive impact on your mind as well. This includes controlling your diet and managing your weight or Body Mass Index.

A new study says that high BMI can negatively impact cognitive functioning in older adults. The Higher BMI leads to increased inflammation which negatively impacts brain function and cognition, researchers from University of Arizona in the US explained.

“The higher your BMI, the more your inflammation goes up,” said lead author of the study Kyle Bourassa, who was part of the team that analysed data from the “English Longitudinal Study of Aging”. The study compiled information collected over 12 years on the health, well-being and social and economic circumstances of those over the age of 50 in England.

Using samples from the study, researchers concentrated on ageing adults over a six year period, correlating it to information on their high BMI, inflammation and cognition. In both samples, the same outcome was found. “The higher participants’ body mass at the first time point in the study, the greater the change in their CRP levels over the next four years,” Bourassa said.

CRP, which stands for C reactive protein, is a blood marker and indicates systemic inflammation in your body. “Change in CRP over four years then predicted change in cognition six years after the start of the study. The body mass of these people predicted their cognitive decline through their levels of systemic inflammation,” Bourassa explained.

Earlier studies have shown that exercising regularly synthesises the production of cathepsin, a protein that enhances brain cell growth and can be directly traced from the muscles to the brain in mice. Their presence noticeably increased in muscle cells after exercise. The level of cathepsin increased in the blood and muscle tissue increases with an increase in your exercise time and volume.

“In humans who exercise consistently for four months, better performance on complex recall tasks, such as drawing from memory, is correlated with increased cathepsin B levels,” Henriette van Praag, Neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging in the US said. When cathepsin B was applied to brain cells it spurred production of molecules related to neurogenesis.

This study is yet another linking regular daily workout or other exercise to memory and thinking capacity gain. Other studies in the past have noted that lack of physical activity, and sedentary lifestyle among young children which puts them at greater risk for obesity and diabetes is causing loss in grey matter volume. For senior citizens, exercise not only preserves their joints, muscles and bones, but also helps them counter the effects of aging – such as loss in mental thinking capacity or memory recall.

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