Weekly Physical Activity May Help Prevent Mild Cognitive Impairment Conversion To Dementia
- Exercising more than once per week is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
Exercising more than once per week is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in patients with mild cognitive impairment, research published in the open access journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy suggests. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that causes people to have more problems with memory and thinking than is normal for someone their age. People with mild cognitive impairment have a ten-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.
A team of researchers from Yonsei University College of Medicine, Republic of Korea, found that compared with people with mild cognitive impairment who did not exercise, those who carried out vigorous or moderate physical activity for at least ten minutes more than once per week had an 18% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Among those who exercised more than once per week, people with mild cognitive impairment who exercised three to five times per week had a 15% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who exercised less than three to five times per week.
Aerobic Exercise And Dementia
Why Aerobic Exercise May Protect Aging Brains from Dementia Symptoms
A new study finds that aerobic exercise may help combat changes in the brain associated with dementia. But any kind of exercise is associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Other research is being done to see if cholesterol levels are associated with risk of developing dementiaIt also appears that regular physical activity benefits the brain. Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function, have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly have improved thinking among people with vascular cognitive impairment.
If you know you want to avoid a nursing home, assisted living facility, or any situation where you will need prolonged periods of in-home care, regular exercise before the age of 65 may be the way to protect your independence in old age.
Correlation Between Aerobic Exercise and Alzheimer’s
Regular exercise makes bones stronger and less fragile one of the prime contributors to fragility in elderly patients includes a loss of muscle tone and bone density. You can protect your body from both by incorporating regular exercise into your routine on a semi-daily basis.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about Alzheimers. The one I encounter most often is there is nothing you can do to stop it, so why bother taking steps trying to avoid it. In some cases, this may be true, and admittedly there are risk factors that cannot be changed. Age, for example, is a key risk factor, and there is nothing you can do about getting older.
In addition, there is a connection with family history and genetics, and a number of genes have been identified that increase risk. This is especially true for early-onset Alzheimers prior to age 65, which impacts a small number of people, typically in their 40s or 50s.
However, there is much you can do to prevent this disease, even if you are older and have bad genes. A potent preventive weapon is a healthy lifestyle in which you keep your blood pressure and serum cholesterol low, practice effective weight management, and follow a healthy diet. What is a healthy diet? You have heard me tout the usual suspects over many years, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and cutting way back on sugar and saturated fat.
In addition, be sure to add in lots of regular exercise.
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Exercise Improves Cognition In Animals
Exercised rats or mice have significantly better scores on memory tests or object recognition compared with their more sedentary counterparts.- Conversely, immobilization had the opposite effect, with reduced cognitive scores. These findings have been extended to primates monkeys with scheduled exercise for 5 months had significantly better cognitive scores than sedentary animals.
A Direct Link Between Exercise And Healthy Aging
The study asked participants to categorize their physical activity every two years during the course of the study. At the end of the study, cognitive function was tested according to participants answers about how easily they were able to operate independently in daily living activities. A walking speed test was also included.
Researchers found that those who began exercising during those eight years were three times more likely to remain healthy and independent.
Those who exercised over the entire period were seven times more likely to be a healthy ager than those who remained consistently inactive.
According to the study, healthy aging was defined as not only an absence of major disease but also good mental health, cognitive function, and the ability to maintain current activities.
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Pillar #: Vascular Health
Theres more and more evidence to indicate that whats good for your heart is also good for your brain. Maintaining your cardiovascular health can be crucial in protecting your brain and lowering your risk for different types of dementia, including Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. And of course, addressing heart-health issues can also help you to lower your risk for a future heart attack or stroke.
Can Eating Certain Foods Or Diets Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
People often wonder if a certain diet or specific foods can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The recent NASEM review of research did not find enough evidence to recommend a certain diet to prevent cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s. However, certain diets and healthy eating patterns have been associated with cognitive benefits. Studies of diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the MIND dieta combination of the Mediterranean and DASH dietsare underway. Learn more about what we know about diet and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information, read What Do We Know About Diet and Alzheimer’s Prevention?
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Strengths Limitations And Future Directions
The primary strength of our meta-analysis lies in its multiple-subgroup design, which provides better quantification of the associations between specified amounts of physical activity or exercise and relative effects on AD. Another strength is that only RCT studies were included. The included studies were conducted in both developed countries like Germany and Denmark and developing countries like China and Brazil, therefore these findings also apply to both kinds of countries. Last, we focused on a single type of dementia , whereas past meta-analyses have typically included trials of subjects with multiple types of dementia or subjects with a diagnosis only of cognitive impairment.
Exercise As Treament For Alzheimers Disease
Although several studies have shown that exercise has a potential benefit in declined cognition, are there any evidences to prove that exercise is good for people with AD? Some of the previous studies have limitations associated with randomization and surveillance in the group with treatment. There are also relatively few large-scale studies focusing on Alzheimers patients.
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Risk Factors For Dementia
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition.
Some dementia risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. These include:
- age: the older you are, the more likely you are to develop dementia. However, dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- genes: in general, genes alone are not thought to cause dementia. However, certain genetic factors are involved with some of the less common types. Dementia usually develops because of a combination of genetic and “environmental” factors, such as smoking and a lack of regular exercise
- lower levels of education
- keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level
Adverse Effects Of Exercise
Advocating for an intervention should be balanced against possible adverse effects. Exercise may result in orthopedic injuries, increase fall risk, and provoke acute coronary syndromes. Thus, physicians should help patients select exercise programs compatible with their capabilities and cardiopulmonary status. In general, people who have been sedentary for an extended time should begin an exercise program with modest exercise targets, but escalating as fitness is progressively achieved.
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Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: What Do We Know
As they get older, many people worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. If they have a family member with Alzheimer’s, they may wonder about their family history and genetic risk. As many as 5.5 million Americans age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s. Many more are expected to develop the disease as the population agesunless ways to prevent or delay it are found.
Although scientists have conducted many studies, and more are ongoing, so far nothing has been proven to prevent or delay dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. But researchers have identified promising strategies and are learning more about what mightand might notwork.
We know that changes in the brain can occur many years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear. These early brain changes point to a possible window of opportunity to prevent or delay debilitating memory loss and other symptoms of dementia. While research may identify specific interventions that will prevent or delay the disease in some people, it’s likely that many individuals may need a combination of treatments based on their own risk factors.
Researchers are studying many approaches to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. Some focus on drugs, some on lifestyle or other changes. Let’s look at the most promising interventions to date and what we know about them.
Functional Mri Cognitive Networks In Healthy Seniors
Functional brain MRI during cognitive tasks has also documented significantly improved cognitive networks with exercise or fitness. In one 6-month RCT among seniors, aerobic exercise translated into significantly improved cortical connectivity and activation, compared with controls. In a 12-month RCT, aerobic exercise likewise improved cognitive fMRI network connectivity however, the control group undergoing nonaerobic stretching and toning also had improved fMRI outcomes.
In cross-sectional analyses, physically fit seniors had fMRI evidence of significantly better cortical connectivity and activation during cognitive tasks than unfit seniors ., Physically fit seniors also performed significantly better on cognitive tasks than unfit seniors in these cross-sectional studies.,,
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Exercise Strengthens 2 Key Brain Areas
Exercise builds up the capacity of parts of your brain associated with memory and learning: the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
Exercise is not going to cure Alzheimers or dementia, but it anatomically strengthens two of the key targets of both those diseases, Suzuki says.
Mentally, three of the biggest benefits are better mood, memory, and attention.
Another study found that physical activity improves cognition in older adults, even those with dementia, the National Institutes of Health reported.
Encouraging evidence indicates that being more physically active is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimers disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults, the NIH said.
Can Diet And Exercise Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
You’ve already heard how diet and exercise can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses. But did you know research is beginning to provide clues indicating that nutrition and physical activity may also play a role in lowering your risk of developing and may help those who already have the condition?
Debbie Mandel, 54, a book author and host of a weekly health and wellness show in Lawrence, N.Y., made sure her mother, Tuna Eisenstadt, who lived with AD for eight years, ate properly and exercised to help manage the disease. Unexpectedly, she passed away about a year ago from lung cancer, but Mandel believes her mother would still be managing her AD well if she were alive today.
“I made sure she ate nutritionally well with a rainbow diet of fruits and vegetables,” says Mandel. “She also ate a lot of fish, which is good because it contains omega-3 fatty acids.” Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of developing AD.
Additionally, a low-fat diet helped her mother manage her cholesterol and high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for AD, and studies indicate low-fat diets may decrease the risk for the disease.
Scientific evidence suggests the diet and exercise strategies Mandel uses to stay healthy do have an impact on prevention of AD and may be helpful to patients with the condition.
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The Right Kind Of Exercise May Boost Memory And Lower Dementia Risk
Being physically fit may sharpen the memory and lower our risk of dementia, even if we do not start exercising until we are older.
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Being physically fit may sharpen the memory and lower our risk of dementia, even if we do not start exercising until we are middle-aged or older, according to two stirring new studies of the interplay between exercise, aging, aerobic fitness and forgetting. But both studies, while underscoring the importance of activity for brain health, also suggest that some types of exercise may be better than others at safeguarding and even enhancing our memory.
The scientific evidence linking exercise, fitness and brain health is already hefty and growing. Multiple studies have found that people with relatively high levels of endurance, whatever their age, tend to perform better on tests of thinking and memory than people who are out of shape. Other studies associate better fitness with less risk for developing Alzheimers disease.
But many of these studies have been one-time snapshots of peoples lives and did not delve into whether and how changing fitness over time might alter peoples memory skills or dementia risk. They did not, in other words, tell us whether, by midlife or retirement age, it might be too late to improve our brain health with exercise.
Effects Of Physical Activity And Exercise
Recently, results from randomized controlled trails have suggested that people should adopt physical activity and exercise to alleviate the negative impact of aging on their cognitive function. A randomized trail conducted by Lautenschlage NT in 2008 showed physical activity and exercise may slow down cognitive decline, which is in agreement with Kramer AF . Heyn P et al reported physical activity and exercise had positive effects on cognition among those with cognitive decline in a meta-analysis.
Evidence from all kinds of trails suggests that physical activity and exercise can to some extent improve cognition performance among patients with cognitive impairment, yet it is still unclear which combinations of frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise can exert a better effect on improving cognition of older adults diagnosed with AD.
To find the optimal intervention way, it is urgent to answer how to conduct physical activity and exercise RCTs to improve cognition in terms of the amount of physical activity and exercise. This meta-analysis was conducted to study the dose-response effects of physical activity on cognition of patients with AD as a need-to-be settled question. The findings should provide bases for establishing guidelines and recommendations for future physical activity and exercise interventions for older adults with AD.
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Aerobic Best For Alzheimers Prevention
Panza and his colleagues revealed that cognitive function in elderly adults who engaged only in aerobic exercise was three times better than that of seniors who did a combination of aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercises.
The study showed that overall, seniors who did any type of exercise demonstrated better cognitive function than those who did not exercise at all. In fact, those who did not exercise had a slight cognitive decline.
The study also confirmed that the WHOs guidelines for physical activity were backed up by the evidence that they examined. As the authors conclude:
Our findings suggest that exercise training may delay the decline in cognitive function that occurs in individuals who are at risk of or have AD , with aerobic exercise possibly having the most favorable effect.
In fact, Panza and colleagues say that theirs is the first study to suggest that aerobic exercise may be superior in its ability to stave off Alzheimers in at-risk individuals.
However, the authors also concede that dditional randomized controlled clinical trials that include objective measurements of cognitive function are needed to confirm findings.
Ultimately, they note, studies should aim to examine physical activity and exercise in combination with other strategies to develop more targeted prevention and treatment options for AD.
Dementia Isnt A Normal Part Of Aging
Dementia isnt a natural or inevitable part of aging, said Fargo, although age is the largest risk factor and the greatest predictor of whether someone will have Alzheimers.
He said that although risk increases with age, even in those 85 and older, only 1 in 3 have Alzheimers.
Its a specific brain disease that the risk for happens to increase as you age, he said.
But even those at higher genetic risk of the disease can take steps to lessen their risk.
Fargo added that theres strong evidence that making better lifestyle choices can reduce our risk of dementia. Randomized controlled clinical trial evidence, such as this paper on exercise, show that if you change a risk factor, youre reducing risk.
He pointed out There are 10 that we believe are supported by the evidence, and we list those on our website. However, the most important of those 10 is exercise, diet, and controlling blood pressure.
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Fitness Industry Starts Weighing In
A new fitness center is set to open in Cincinnati this fall to bring physical and cognitive fitness together in one workout. Activate is the brainchild of former fitness industry executive Martin Pazzani. He teamed with Mike Gelfgot and John Spence, who together owned multiple successful Anytime Fitness locations.
Weve found that when you put the brain fist, the body follows, Pazzani says.
Its very simple and powerful, says clinical psychologist Marie Stoner, director of programming & co-founder at Activate. Its physical activity and cognitive stimulation combined. Each of them separately is good, but when we do them together, the benefit is greater and comes more quickly. Physical activity is really the antidote for so much in aging.
Stoner says she was a bit skeptical at first — arent reading and games like crossword puzzles enough to keep our minds sharp as we age?
But it all clicked when she discovered dual-task roots deep in human evolution.
Early humans lived in the forest and were basically sedentary, she says. But then we came out of the forests and began the hunter-gatherer stage, and the brain adapted to the new challenges. People had to be able to think and make decisions while they were running and performing other physical tasks. Those two things got linked together in evolution. Thats why aerobic and strength training are so effective for brain health.”
The New York Times: Move Your Body, Bolster Your Brain.