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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs