News / Health

Exercise Could Stem Alzheimer's Onset

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease.
This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease.

Related Articles

Head Trauma Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease Plaques

Study indicates history of concussion may increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease by contributing to build-up of Alzheimer’s-associated plaques in brain

Peanut Butter Sniff Test Could Diagnose Alzheimer's

Smell sensitivity can be one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline

Blood Test Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease

Test could someday help researchers develop drugs for the degenerative brain disorder
Researchers have discovered yet another reason to hit the gym.

A new study of older adults who were at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease claims that moderate physical activity can prevent shrinkage of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and spatial orientation. It is also the first part of the brain that comes under attack from the devastating disease.

"The good news is that being physically active may offer protection from the neurodegeneration associated with genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. J. Carson Smith, a kinesiology researcher at the University of Maryland School of Public Health who conducted the study in a statement.

"We found that physical activity has the potential to preserve the volume of the hippocampus in those with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, which means we can possibly delay cognitive decline and the onset of dementia symptoms in these individuals,” he said.

“Physical activity interventions may be especially potent and important for this group," Smith added.

For the study, Smith and his colleagues monitored four groups of “healthy older adults ages 65-89."

The subjects all displayed "normal cognitive abilities over an 18-month period." The volume of their hippocampus also was measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the start and finish of the 18 months.

Researchers divided the subjects into four groups, those with high or low Alzheimer’s risk and low or high levels of physical activity. Alzheimer’s risk was determined by the presence of lack of presence of an apolipoprotein called E epsilon 4 allele.

Only the group of high risk and no exercise saw a decrease in hippocampal volume over the 18 months, researchers said. All the other groups maintained hippocampal volume.

"This is the first study to look at how physical activity may impact the loss of hippocampal volume in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Kirk Erickson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in a statement.

"There are no other treatments shown to preserve hippocampal volume in those that may develop Alzheimer's disease,” he added.

“This study has tremendous implications for how we may intervene, prior to the development of any dementia symptoms, in older adults who are at increased genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease," Erickson said.

Smith said the study provides “additional evidence that exercise plays a protective role against cognitive decline.”

The Alzheimer’s Association, which seeks to promote Alzheimer's care, support and research, recommends physical exercise “for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells.”

“Growing evidence shows that physical exercise does not have to be strenuous or even require a major time commitment," the association said. "It is most effective when done regularly, and in combination with a brain-healthy diet, mental activity and social interaction.”

Smith said the study suggests the need for more research on how physical activity “may interact with genetics and decrease Alzheimer’s risk.”

Smith had previously shown that walking improved cognitive function in patients already experiencing decline.

He plans to do further research on the effects of exercise intervention on healthy older adults with genetic and other risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s to see how exercise might impact hippocampal volume and subsequent brain function.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, more than 5 million Americans suffer from the disease, a number they say will triple by 2050 as the population ages.

The findings are published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid