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Issue 96, March 2007

Exercise For Mind And Body

Physical exercise can help stave off memory loss in people with Huntington's Disease, but adding in mental gymnastics is far more beneficial, research shows.

Tests on mice with the fatal brain disorder have proved that simply running on a wheel was often enough to hold off degeneration associated with the condition.

But when researcher Anthony Hannan, from Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute, compared his results with studies looking at physical and mental exercise, he found that doing both a had a far more dramatic effect.

These other mice had been stimulated with a range of mazes, toys and exercise equipment.

"The combination of mental and physical exercise requires a greater range of movements and fine coordination, which is more challenging that simply running on a mouse wheel," Dr Hannan said.

The work, published in the international journal Neuroscience, concludes that "to effectively delay the onset and progression, a combination of physical and mental stimulation is essential".

Acknowledgment: 2006 The Border Morning Mail Pty.

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