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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora