A small amount of exercise shielded older animals from memory loss following a bacterial infection. In the 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.
The findings suggest moderate exercise may lead to several changes in the brain that boost its ability to protect itself during aging in a period of increased vulnerability.
“This is the first study to show that exercise reduces susceptibility to the cognitive impairments that follow infection in aging animals, and the changes taking place in the brain thought to underlie these impairments,” Barrientos said.
“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.