“As brain researchers, we have had the unique opportunity to analyze an exceptionally large group of very physically active people over two decades and we have unraveled some interesting results.” –Lund University professor Tomas Deierborg
Just ran across this article on Mens Journal about a study conducted in Sweden exploring the connection between cross country skiing and lowered risk of depression and dementia. The data used in the study was collected from cross country skiers participating in Vasaloppet, an annual 56-mile race which dates back to 1922.
Every year around 15,000 people race the Vasaloppet and researchers from Lund University and Uppsala University have collected data on 200,000 of those racers between 1989 and 2010. When compared to a control group of a similar size, they found the skiers were diagnosed with dementia and depression 50% less than the control group. They also found skiers had a reduced risk of Parkinson’s.
Researchers also looked at incidents of Alzheimer’s among both groups and found the neurological disorder not reduced among the skiers. This finding is actually contradictory to previous studies suggesting physical activity can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.
“The mechanisms behind this still need to be investigated but it seems that those who are physically active have a ‘motor reserve’ that postpones the onset of the disease. If a person trains a lot, it may be possible to maintain mobility for longer despite the pathological changes in the brain.”-Author of the study Tomas Olsson
Don’t worry if you’re not a skier, the benefits of physical activity highlighted in this study are not exclusive to winter sports athletes. So get off your butt and get working on your ‘motor reserve’!
images from wikipedia