Exercise – currently our best hope to slow Alzheimer’s?
Are you aware that exercising several times a week may delay brain deterioration in people at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease?
Researchers found that people who had accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease – experienced slower degeneration in their hippocampus (a memory-related brain region that progressively deteriorates as dementia takes hold) if they exercised regularly for one year.
Although exercise did not prevent the eventual spread of toxic amyloid plaques, aerobic workouts may at least slow down the effects of the disease if intervention occurs in the early stages.
This is significant because right now if you have amyloid clumping together in the brain, doctors can’t prescribe anything to cure it.
Reduced Brain Atrophy
The study compared cognitive function and brain volume between two groups of sedentary older adults with memory issues:
One group did aerobic exercise (at least a half-hour workout four to five times weekly) and another group did only flexibility training.
Both groups maintained similar cognitive abilities during the trial in areas such as memory and problem solving.
However brain imaging showed that people from the exercise group who had amyloid buildup experienced slightly less volume reduction in their hippocampus.
Although the interventions didn’t stop the hippocampus from getting smaller, even slowing down the rate of atrophy through exercise could be an exciting revelation.
Fitness and Brain Health
This latest research builds upon numerous studies suggesting links between fitness and brain health, such as a 2018 study that showed that people with lower fitness levels experienced faster deterioration of vital nerve fibers (white matter) in the brain.
Exercise also serves to pump more blood flow to the brain as well as keeping blood sugar and blood pressure levels stable. This helps build brain health in general.
So if you are over 45, start looking at ways to become more physically active today, because at present preventing Alzheimer’s through exercise is the best cure for Alzheimer’s we know!