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Can Physical Exercises Delay Memory Problems in Alzheimer's Patients?

by Rishika Gupta on January 27, 2018 at 12:21 PM
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Can Physical Exercises Delay Memory Problems in Alzheimer's Patients?

Physical exercise may help delay cognitive (memory) function loss in patients with Alzheimer's disease finds a new study. The findings of this study are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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. Geriatrics experts have suggested that exercising can improve brain health in older adults.

Today, some 5.3 million Americans live with Alzheimer's disease, and it is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The number of older adults who will develop AD is expected to more than triple by 2050.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommendations suggests that older adults Should perform 150 minutes a week of moderate exercises (such as brisk walking), 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic training, or a combination of the two types. It also recommends older adults perform 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 Alzheimer's disease and 35 percent had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

As the researchers examined the studies, they discovered that older adults who did aerobic exercise by itself experienced 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.

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 AD, aerobic exercise may be more effective than other types of exercise in preserving the ability to think and make decisions.

The researchers note that their findings need to be confirmed in future studies.

Source: Eurekalert

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