Aerobic Exercise May Alleviate Diabetes Related Memory Loss

According to a report published in the journal Diabetologia, memory loss owed to type 2 diabetes can be improved by engaging in moderate aerobic exercise.

Aerobic, or cardio exercise involves any sustained activity that makes us sweat, causes us to breathe harder, and gets our heart pumping faster than when we’re at rest. This type of exercise strengthens the heart, and lungs, and helps the cardiovascular system deliver oxygen throughout the body more efficiently.

Aerobic exercise is also known to aid glycometabolism, or the body’s processing of sugars and carbohydrates. Recently, investigators at the University of Tsukuba studied whether aerobic exercise might benefit glycometabolism in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that helps memories form.

Just as dysregulated glycometabolism in our peripheral tissues is a symptom of type 2 diabetes, the researchers theorized that diabetes-related memory problems might be a symptom of abnormal glycometabolism in the hippocampus. If true, then memory issues should be improved by moderate exercise that would normalize hippocampus glycometabolism.

To test their theory, the researchers engaged some laboratory rats, with and without diabetes, and studied the glycogen-related chemical makeup of their hippocampus. Then, the investigators used an established method for measuring the rats’ spatial learning and memory while exercising: the rodents ran in a circular pool to test how well they recalled the location of a platform, and whether they learned to escape the pool quicker over time.

After four weeks of aerobic pool-running, the rats did locate their escape routes faster. This “indicated that exercise significantly improved spatial memory impairments in type 2 diabetic rats,” said researcher Takeru Shima.

The Tsukuba researchers were the first to “describe detailed profiles of glycometabolism in the type 2 diabetic hippocampus,” and they demonstrated that a month’s worth of moderate exercise boosts memory function in type 2 diabetes by alleviating abnormal glycometabolism in the hippocampus.

While these findings suggest that moderate aerobic activity will also help alleviate memory loss in people with type 2 diabetes, human studies are needed for confirmation.

Sources: Diabetes UK; Study.com; Springer Link

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