The Importance of Exercise on Vascular Health
This week I want to highlight the work of my mentor from my graduate school days, Dr. Munro Cullum, at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He and his colleagues recently published a paper on the impact of exercise on vascular health in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and it was highlighted on Apple News and others. Click below to read one such link:
In brief, they assigned 70 participants with MCI to 2 groups, one that did cardiovascular exercise via brisk walking 3-5 times a week, and another that did stretches for the same amount of time each week. After a year, 48 were able to complete the study (29 in the stretching group, and 19 in the walking group) those who were in the walking group had more flexibility in their carotid arteries (blood vessels in their necks) and improved cerebral blood flow (blood flow to their brains). Those who did stretches did not. They did not find any significant cognitive change between groups in this small sample.
I will highlight that the stretches they did were not the yoga we do in HABIT, which we have found to be beneficial in many ways, including caregiver physical function, mood/anxiety, and better activities of daily living in people with Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Now, Dr. Cullum's paper does not look at whether this helps with cognitive function or prevents dementia, but there is a lot of other research out there that does suggest managing vascular disease and aerobic exercise do improve cognitive function and reduce dementia risk. So, this is just one more piece of evidence of the benefits of exercise for your brain health!
You can find the full article on this study below: