We may have heard about how exercise is beneficial in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. This is not just a popular belief, but a hypothesis that has been extensively studied. Let’s look at some studies that actually support this.
According to researchers from the School of Medicine & Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, exercise can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In a study involving about 300 late to middle-aged adults, subjects who exercised at least five times a week performed better on cognitive tests and showed fewer signs of having Alzheimer’s, as well as other degenerative brain disorders.
A pool of other related studies, including intervention and observational work, has noted that an active lifestyle provides a good foundation against almost any brain function decline. All have concluded that physical activity is known to delay or prevent mental degeneration associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few more studies that back this hypothesis.
Exercise Protects Seniors with the APOE e4 Gene
Researchers from Finland and Sweden, and studies published in NeuroImage and Alzheimer’s & Dementia, as well, have provided evidence that seniors who carry the APOE e4 (Apolipoprotein E e4) gene are linked to Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments. According to Scientific American, some people will develop the brain disease eventually even before any behavioral symptoms show. They have reduced metabolic levels and hints of gradual brain deterioration compared to those without the gene.
Even if they are already aware of the advantages of exercise in slowing mental decline, the same researchers found that the effects are greater for seniors known to be at higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s due to genetics. As the research showed, leading a physically active lifestyle is linked to a significant improvement in glucose uptake and brain activity during memory tasks.
Related: 4 Types of Exercises for Seniors
Moderate Exercise Found To Be Beneficial
Featured in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease was a 2013 study that discussed the importance of exercise and how it could prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The research was conducted by the University of Maryland School of Public Health.
Upon analysis of 17 participants suffering from MCI or Mild Cognitive Impairment (a stage prior to Alzheimer’s disease), it was found that carrying out a 12-week routine of moderate activity on a treadmill resulted in better memory performance. The test included multiple memory evaluations. The study focused on brain areas such as the parahippocampal gyrus, the precuneus region, and the temporal – all of which are associated to a diagnosis of the neurologic disease, it concluded that physical activity boosts neural efficiency.
Researcher found that the test group that exercised demonstrated an increase in neural efficiency, meaning that their brain used fewer resources to complete the same memory task. Since the level of exercise activity employed was not intense, another conclusion was that a moderate amount of exercise, to the tune of 150 minutes a week, could provide an improvement for seniors at risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.