New research recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society explores the benefits of exercising for delaying Alzheimer’s disease.
Last year, a review by scientists at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles found that as many as 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s diseasewere preventable through lifestyle changes.
The same report also highlighted nine steps that anyone could take to significantly reduce their risk. One such step was increasing physical activity.
In fact, it is so widely accepted that exercise is a good way to prevent dementia that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that individuals aged 65 and above engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week, or 75 weekly minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, to keep this form of dementia at bay.
Finally, a third option recommended by the WHO involves both moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity, complemented with muscle-strengthening activities.
But as the authors of the new study point out, the WHO base their recommendations on a few meta-analyses that have yielded conflicting results on the benefits of exercise for dementia.
One of the reasons for these conflicting results could be that the previous research used dated statistical tools, suggest the study authors.
So, Gregory Panza — an exercise physiologist in the Department of Cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT — and his team set out to examine the cognitive benefits of exercise in more depth and using newer tools. 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 WHO’s 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 [Alzheimer’s disease], with aerobic exercise possibly having the most favorable effect.”
Also see Everything You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s Disease