A link between moderate aerobic exercise and improving memory loss in people with diabetes has been found in a new study.
Researchers from the University of Tsukaba in Japan found four weeks of moderate activity improved memory dysfunction in mouse models of type 2 diabetes.
It was already known that type 2 diabetes can affect the memory, which is caused by the breakdown of glucose metabolism (glycometabolism).
This study looked at whether exercise, which can boost glycometabolism, can also have a positive effect on the hippocampus – the part of the brain that helps the memory to form.
Corresponding study author Hideaki Soya said: “We showed for the first time that glycogen levels are significantly higher in the hippocampus of diabetic rats.
“Our findings are the first to describe detailed profiles of glycometabolism in the type 2 diabetic hippocampus and to show that four weeks of moderate exercise improves memory dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.”
The function of the hippocampus was tested by making the rats run in a circular pool. The researchers wanted to see how well the animals remembered the location of platform in the pool and whether, over time, they managed to escape from the pool any quicker, which study first author Takeru Shima said was a “well-established method for measuring spatial learning and memory”.
After four weeks of running in the pool, the rats did find their escape route faster which Shima said “indicated that exercise significantly improved spatial memory impairments in type 2 diabetic rats”.
Researchers think the findings suggest exercise carried out moderately could be used to treat memory loss in people who have type 2 diabetes in the future.
The findings appear in the journal Diabetologia.

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