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Regular exercise slows down the progression of Alzheimer’sposted on July 26, 2012 - 10:58 am
It’s no secret that the key to keeping a fit frame is a healthy diet paired with regular exercise. But recent events suggest that it might also be the key to improved cognitive functioning in older adults. Several studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver on July 15 report that consistent physical activity like walking or resistance training is an effective, non-pharmaceutical tool to treat the mental symptoms of aging and memory-related conditions.
When we age, the areas in the brain responsible for memory become more sensitive to the physiological effects of nutrition deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, or stress. So it’s fairly common for older adults to forget where they left their keys from time to time. But even though conditions like Alzheimer’s also impact memory, they are distinct because of their aggressive and progressive nature. Also critical is the fact that they are incurable, which forces the medical community to focus on treatment and most importantly prevention.
An article by the Bloomberg newshighlights a clinical trial led by Kirk Erickson, the assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburg in Pennsylvania. Erickson studied 120 adults without dementia who walked three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. After examining the subjects’ brains using an MRI, he found that the regions responsible for memory grew approximately by two percent.
Another study lead by researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found that regular weight training amongst a group of 86 women ages 70 to 80 helped them perform better on cognitive tests. But while these results are promising, more research is needed to determine what happens to cognitive performance overtime if exercise regimens are maintained or reduced.
Overall, the findings of these studies and their counterparts presented at the conference offer the 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s hope that something can be done as the search for a cure continues. To learn more about how exercise slows down the deterioration of memory and how to get you or someone you know started on a plan, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Aging website.