We were so excited to read this article about Alzheimer’s research published by Tony (please see his Bio below) that we want to share it with you. If you know or care for anyone in their mid to late 70’s – I urge you to read and share this information with them as it may impact their quality of life.
The connection between Alzheimer’s and exercise…
Regular readers know how focused I am on the connection between exercise and the brain. I lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia. And, I just turned 78 two weeks ago. So, I was most interested in this report on the benefits of aerobic exercise on Alzheimer’s symptoms. When you finish reading, please check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits.)
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder that destroys memory and thinking skills over time. It is the most common form of dementia in older adults. There is presently no cure for the condition, though treatment options are available. Today, some 5.3 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s Disease, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Sadly, the number of older adults who will develop AD is expected to more than triple by 2050.
So, what can improve brain health?
Geriatrics experts have suggested that exercising can improve brain health in older adults. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommendations for how much older adults should exercise. They suggest that older adults perform 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking), 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic training, or a combination of the two types (moderate exercise and vigorous aerobic). The WHO also recommends older adults do muscle-strengthening exercises on at least two or more days a week.
However, not all studies of exercise and older adults have proven the benefits of exercise. We don’t know for sure whether exercise slows mental decline or improves older adults’ ability to think and make decisions.
A team of researchers designed a study to learn whether exercise could delay or improve Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms. They reviewed 19 studies that examined the effect of an exercise training program on cognitive function in older adults who were at risk for or diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The studies included 1,145 older adults, most of whom were in their mid-to late 70s. Of the participants, 65 percent were at risk for AD and 35 percent had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
What the researchers found
As the researchers examined the studies, they discovered that older adults who did aerobic exercise by itself experienced a three times greater level of improvement in cognitive function than those who participated in combined aerobic training and strength training exercises. The researchers also confirmed that the amount of exercise WHO recommends for older adults was reinforced by the studies they examined. (my emphasis)
Finally, the researchers found that older adults in the no-exercise control groups in the studies faced declines in cognitive function. Meanwhile, the older adults who exercised showed small improvements in cognitive function no matter what type of exercise they did.
The research team concluded that this study may be the first to show that for older adults who are at risk for or who have Alzheimer’s Disease, aerobic exercise may be more effective than other types of exercise in preserving the ability to think and make decisions.
The researchers noted that their findings need to be confirmed in future studies.
About the Author
Tony has been interested in eating healthy for more than 35 years. And he has been writing posts for his blog for over seven years. He has been retired for 17 years and spent 20 years as a Reuters Correspondent and Editor after starting his career in men’s magazines. He also taught journalism and wrote for a major U.S. philanthropy, spending his last few working years managing bond investments. I think you’ll enjoy his writing as much as I do. You can visit Tony at guysandgoodhealth.com.