Pease Family Scholar Lecture focuses on the effects of exercise on aging brain

Colleen Wieseler

Bradley Hatfield, Ph.D. in exercise and sport kinesiology science, presented at the 16th annual Pease Family Scholar lecture Thursday night in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union.

Hatfield focused on the positive effect of physical activity on the aging brain, more specifically, the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that gradually devastates memory and thinking skills.

Hatfield said in his speech there are 5.4 million cases in the United States and is the fifth-leading cause of death in people older than 65.

“There is a cost to everything we do,” Hatfield said, describing the importance of being active at a young age to preserve cognitive function.

Hatfield’s research suggests a positive effect on exercise and the brain. Studies show those who exercise have denser brain tissue, meaning greater cognitive function.

Exercise prescriptions are the “perfect anecdote” for delaying symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Hatfield said. Research indicates a positive response from exercise on the aging brain, especially for those who carry the dominant Alzheimer’s allele, ApoE e4.

Hatfield said “high fit people are having a more robust response,” as opposed to those who are not physically active. He pointed toward an investment hypothesis, urging younger individuals to exercise now to reduce the chances of dementia and delay the onset of common symptoms.

By exercising, it is the hope that we can “slow it to the point so it never reveals,” Hatfield said about the development of Alzheimer’s. Although the research strongly suggests this conclusion, he said, “there are challenges for absolute certainty.”

The Pease Family Scholar program is an annual lecture for ISU students and faculty to listen to a scholar in a particular area of kinesiology.

Philip Martin, who received his doctoral degree in physical education/biomechanics from Pennsylvania State University, is the ISU kinesiology chairman; Martin serves on the committee responsible for selecting the Pease Family scholar.

Martin said, “Dr. Hatfield is very well-known for what he does,” and the decision was unanimous after deciding which specialty within knesiology they decided to choose.