Exercise found to reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s symptoms

Early-onset autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s, also known as dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease, is a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that causes memory loss and dementia in people typically in their 30s to 50s. In a recent study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, a team of researchers found that physical exercise may delay cognitive decline and improve cognitive function in people with this rare condition.

For the study, the research team looked at the effects of physical activity in people with early-onset autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease as there is not much research done on this particular illness. In conducting the study, the team investigated 372 individuals enrolled at the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network study.

They divided the participants into two groups — high exercisers and low exercisers — according to their level of physical activity. Then, the researchers examined the association of physical activity with cognitive performance, functional status, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults aged 18 to 64 to do at least 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both in a week.

The results of the study revealed that individuals who have high levels of physical activity exhibited significantly better cognitive and functional performance and significantly fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in cerebrospinal fluid than individuals with low physical activity. High exercisers also scored higher on Mini-Mental State Examination at expected symptom onset compared with low exercisers. After 15.1 years, they were diagnosed with very mild dementia compared to those who do not exercise enough.

From these findings, the research team concluded that physical activity has beneficial effects on cognitive function and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with early-onset autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s. For individuals with this rare Alzheimer’s disease, engaging in at least two-and-a-half hours of exercise each week may be helpful. (Related: Another reason to work out: Women who are physically fit in middle age reduce risk of dementia by 90%.)

“A physically active lifestyle is achievable and may play an important role in delaying the development and progression of ADAD. Individuals at genetic risk for dementia should, therefore, be [counseled] to pursue a physically active lifestyle,” concluded the research team, as cited by ScienceDaily.com.

Other ways to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s

You can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and, in some cases, slow its progression by:

  • Adhering to a healthy diet: Evidence shows a link between eating healthily and having a healthy brain. An example of a healthy diet is the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This type of diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, fish, and poultry. Another type of diet that may help prevent dementia is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). This diet includes a high intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat organic dairy foods and moderate consumption of whole grains, nuts, poultry, and fish.
  • Exercising your brain: Mental exercises, such as learning something new and solving puzzles, also help prevent the development of dementia. Practicing mental exercises increases the number and strength of connections between the brain cells, enhances your brain cells, and even increases the number of brain cells slightly.
  • Protecting your head: Repeated concussions and other head injuries are linked to a higher risk for dementia. Therefore, it is important to protect your head from these injuries.
  • Socializing: Older adults who socialize or interact with other people exhibit less cognitive decline because social activities promote new connections between brain cells.

Read more news stories and studies on the effects of physical activity on the development of Alzheimer’s by going to Alzheimers.news.

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