It is not big news that exercise can keep dementia and Alzheimer’s disease away. Previous research has also indicated that physical activity is good for cognition. Three studies have proved that exercising does not only reduce the risk of developing this diseases but it is also an effective form of treatment. The randomized controlled trials were presented this year in Washington DC, at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).
The first trial observed the effect of moderate and intense exercises in 200 people who suffered from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The patients were divided in a control group and a group that took part in a supervised exercise program which lasted for 16 weeks. The lead author was Dr. Steen Hasselbalch from the Danish Dementia Research Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. The findings of the study indicate that those participants who exercised showed fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms than the control group. Unlike the exercise group whose psychiatric symptoms improved the symptoms of depression, anxiety and irritability of the control group enhanced.
Another study analyzed the way in which aerobics influenced the cognition of persons who suffered from mild vascular cognitive impairment which represents cognitive decline caused by minis-strokes. Vascular cognitive impairment is considered the second leading cause of dementia. 62 participants were involved in the study: they were divided in a group which did aerobic exercises and a group which attended a monthly nutrition seminar. The study lasted for six months. The researchers performed brain scans before and after the study and observed that the aerobic group showed significant improvement.
The third study examined the effect exercise had on tau tangles which are brain lesions observed in Alzheimer’s disease. The tau protein collapses into twisted strands and destroys the essential cell transport system and kills brain cells. Reducing tau is also a way of treating cognitive decline. The 65 sedentary adults involved in the study were divided into a group which underwent supervise aerobic training and another group which did stretching exercises four times per week. After a period of six months researchers reported that the aerobic group had reduced levels of tau levels in comparison with the stretching group.
Maria Carrillo, the chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, remarked:
“These findings also highlight the potential value of non-drug therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and remind us that research ought to adamantly pursue combination and multi-modal approaches to Alzheimer’s therapy and prevention,”
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