How Exercise Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

exercise can help prevent alzheimer's disease

Exercise Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s disease

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, exercise can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Regular, moderate-intensity physical activity offers protection against Alzheimer’s disease, even for people who are genetically at risk!

The study involved 93 adults, whose average age was 64, all of whom had genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease. It was shown that moderate-intensity physical activity were more likely to have healthy patterns of glucose metabolism in their brains (a sign of healthy brain activity) than those who did less. Light-intensity physical activity, however, was not associated with similar benefits.

exercise can help prevent alzheimer's disease

To illuminate the relationship between brain activity and exercise levels, everyone wore an accelerometer for a week to measure their daily physical activity and received PET scans to measure glucose metabolism, which reveals neuron health and activity, in several regions of the brain. For people with Alzheimer’s disease, these regions tend to have depressed glucose metabolism. The results showed that people who spent at least 68 minutes a day doing moderate-level activity had better glucose metabolism in all of the regions, compared to those who spent less time doing so.

“Light activity is insufficient, and vigorous activity might be unnecessary”

The lead author, Ozioma Okonkwo, points out that previous research has already established a connection between glucose metabolism and cognitive function. “We’re showing now that a moderate-intensity active lifestyle actually boosts neuronal function,” he says. “I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to make the argument that this probably is one of the pathways through which exercise prevents cognitive decline in middle life”.

Okonkwo says this research offers reassurance that people can take steps to protect themselves against Alzheimer’s disease, even if they are at high genetic risk. “The evidence shows that it’s never too late to take up and maintain a physically active regimen,” he says. “It also suggests that the earlier you begin and the longer you continue it, the more benefits you tend to accrue.”