The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

How to prolong your health

- Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Want to protect your brain from neurodegen­erative diseasesli­keAlzheime­r’sandParkin­son’s? Turns out, six minutes of high-intensity cycling turns on a gene in stressed muscles that produces a small protein called irisin. Irisin boosts production of another protein called brain-derived neurotroph­ic factor that’s essential for brain learning and memory and could protect the brain from age-related cognitive decline. It has that effect because BDNF increases new neural connection­s and pathways and promotes survival of neurons. That, in turn, increases the formation and storage of memories, enhances learning and boosts cognitive performanc­e — at least in animal studies.

These insights come from research in The Journal of Physiology that looked at the brain-benefits of fasting for 20 hours, 90 minutes of low-intensity cycling, a sixminute bout of vigorous cycling, and the combinatio­n of exercise and fasting. Short-but-vigorous cycling boosted BDNF four to five times more than fasting (that caused no change) and prolonged lowintensi­ty exercise (caused a slight bump). Another theory (besides irisin production) about why high-intensity exercise works is that it increases blood platelet production by 20% and blood platelets store a lot of BDNF.

This adds to the info on how important it is to get frequent, short periods of activity. One study found that five minutes of walking every half hour offsets some of sedentary behavior’s most harmful effects by lowering blood sugar and blood pressure and reducing blood sugar spikes by 58% after a big meal. That’s compared with sitting with no breaks all day. So, don’t just sit there!

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestseller­s. His next book is “The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow.” Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@ GreatAgeRe­

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