August 10, 2011
Exercise After Bacterial Infection Protects Brain

Suppose you and your pet rat both come down with a bacterial infection. It could even be you and the rat that lives in your yard or basement. Okay, there's a rat in your life somehow or other. So you both get an infection. You both get over the infection. Suppose you don't get much exercise after the infection. But the rat either runs away from your cat or it rides an exercise wheel. The rat getting exercise will avoid memory loss that a bacterial infection will otherwise cause. So the rat's going to gain on your mentally unless you exercise too.

A small amount of exercise shields older animals from memory loss following a bacterial infection, according to a study in the August 10 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest moderate exercise may lead to several changes in the brain that boost its ability to protect itself during aging a period of increased vulnerability.

In the new study, researchers led by Ruth Barrientos, PhD, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, found running on an exercise wheel protected older rats from memory loss following an Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection. Wheel-running also blunted changes in the hippocampus an area of the brain involved in learning and memory that typically follow bacterial infection in aging animals. In humans, older adults are more likely than the young to suffer memory impairment following severe bacterial infection or injury.

The rats are probably all telling each other to shake the lead out and get going. They don't want to lose their memory of when the cats come around or where to find the best garbage.

Some people are waiting for drugs to reverse aging while the rats are busy exercising.

"While many of us are hopeful about developing a pharmaceutical intervention to reverse the effects of aging, this study provides exciting evidence that a little moderate exercise is protective against age-related problems with health and immunity," said Jonathan Godbout, PhD, an expert on aging at Ohio State University, who was unaffiliated with the study.

One thing regular FuturePundit readers should know by now: The rats, mice, rabbits, and assorted other animals manipulate scientists into giving the lab animals all the cool new treatments first. So once the drugs for reversing brain aging arrive you just know the rats will get these drugs 10 years before humans do. You can't compete with rats using drugs. Make peace with this fact and get more exercise for your brain.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 August 10 09:22 PM  Aging Brain Studies

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