Antioxidants, Exercise, and Brain Function




Sidhu, Akram


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Aging is associated with a decline in psychomotor and cognitive function. Interventions such as exercise and antioxidants supplementation when investigated independently have been beneficial counteracting oxidative stress and improving brain function in both human and animals. A large number of health conscious individuals often combine exercise with vitamin supplementation, anticipating a synergistic effect maximizing their performance. While some studies reported additive effects, others have also indicated a potential for an antagonistic action of the antioxidants on the beneficial effects of exercise. To date, it has not been well established what the nature of the interaction between antioxidant supplementation and exercise is in terms of functional outcomes and whether age will influence the outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine if combination of antioxidant supplementation, and moderate exercise could ameliorate psychomotor and cognitive performance of young and old male mice Using vitamins C and E and a treadmill-based forced exercise in young and old C57BL/6J mice, we explored the nature of that interaction on functional and biochemical outcomes. We examined the mice for spatial learning and memory, working memory and executive function, coordinated running performance, muscular reflexes, spontaneous locomotor activity, anxiety and muscle strength. Our data suggested that the male mice exhibited age-associated declines in psychomotor and cognitive performance. Antioxidants supplementation worsened the cognitive flexibility of old mice but improved the depression-like symptoms in young mice. Overall, exercise training reversed the age-related declines in reflexes and balance of old mice, and improved strength and associative learning of young mice only. Furthermore, combination of exercise and antioxidant improved reflexes, motor and cognitive performance, but additive or antagonistic effects of antioxidants on the beneficial effects of exercise were not observed. Hence we can conclude that, combining antioxidants and exercise may not be provide any additional benefit in reversing age-related functional impairments.