News / Health

Physical Activity in Teen Years Helps Prevent Mental Decline

Study indicates exercise early in life has long-lasting benefits

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

A new study finds regular physical activity as a teenager may prevent cognitive impairment - a decline in mental abilities - decades later.

Previous studies found that people who were physically active in later life were more likely to avoid mental decline as they aged.

A study has linked exercise in teen years to better mental ability later in life
A study has linked exercise in teen years to better mental ability later in life

This new study asked more than 9,000 American women over age 65 about their level of physical activity as teenagers, and at ages 30, 50, and late in life.

"And what we found was that people who were physically active on a regular basis had lower risk of cognitive impairments in late life," said Laura Middleton, the Canadian researcher who led the study. "But it seemed that teenage physical activity was particularly important in terms of the prevention of cognitive impairments."

The women in the study who said they were physically active just once a week showed less cognitive impairment as measured by a standard test, but the link was strongest among those who were active decades earlier, as teenagers.

Middleton points to a couple of long-lasting effects that physical activity can have on still-growing teenage bodies. One is that exercise could help strengthen the blood vessels in the head, which nourish the brain.

"Physical activity is also known to affect the repair mechanisms in the brain. So people who are more physically active, who exercise, can actually improve the repair mechanisms in the brain," she says.

Interestingly, there was not a strong correlation between the amount of physical activity and the extent of cognitive impairment.

The study involved women only, and speaking via Skype, Middleton said other studies that have looked at the relationship between exercise and cognitive decline found the link stronger in women. She added there is still a message in her research for men.

"Most studies have still found that physical activity is beneficial for men. And there's no reason to suggest that the finding that teenage physical activity is most important of the four ages shouldn't apply to men."

Dr. Laura Middleton reports her research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid