24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Alzheimers Disease and other Cognitive Disorders
Basic Information
Introduction & Causes of Cognitive DisordersDementiaAlzheimer's DiseaseOther Cognitive DisordersDementia Coping Skills & Behavior ManagementTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Conclusion and Resources
More InformationLatest News
AHA News: Growing – and Aging – Hispanic Population at Risk for DementiaAHA News: Yo-Yoing Blood Pressure Could Be Bad for Those With Alzheimer'sGive Seniors a Memory Check at Annual Checkups, Experts SayFor People at High Risk, Evidence That Exercise Might Slow Alzheimer'sDementia Caregivers Often Face Sleepless NightsHealth Tip: Dementia and DrivingGetting Hitched Might Lower Your Odds for DementiaHow You Can Help Head Off Alzheimer's DiseaseDeep Brain 'Zap' Restores Vivid Memories to Alzheimer's PatientsHow to Protect a Loved One With Dementia During a Heat WaveToo Much Napping May Signal Alzheimer'sDepression, Alzheimer's Might Be Part of Same Process in Some Aging Brains: StudyStay Social to Help Cut Your Odds of DementiaBlood Test May Spot Brain Changes of Early Alzheimer'sClues to Why Women Have Higher Odds for Alzheimer'sA New and Better Way to 'Stage' Alzheimer's Patients?At Risk for Alzheimer's? Exercise Might Help Keep It at BayHealthy Living Can Cut Odds for Alzheimer's in People at Genetic RiskHormone Treatment for Prostate Cancer Linked to Heightened Alzheimer's RiskAlzheimer's Genes Might Show Effects in Your 20sWidely Prescribed Class of Meds Might Raise Dementia RiskCancer Survivors May Have Lower Odds for DementiaCommon Blood Pressure Med Might Help Fight Alzheimer'sEducation, Intelligence Might Protect Your BrainOpioids Put Alzheimer's Patients at Risk of Pneumonia: StudyFor Some, Trouble Tracking Finances Could Be Sign of DementiaIt's Never Too Late for New Brain CellsHigh LDL Cholesterol Tied to Early-Onset Alzheimer'sDoes Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Raise Dementia Risk?Could Alzheimer's Spread Like Infection Throughout the Brain?Newly Discovered Illness May Cause Nearly 1 in 5 Dementias, Experts SayFinancial Scammers Often Prey on People With Early DementiaMore Alzheimer's Drug Trial Failures: Are Researchers on the Wrong Track?Gum Disease Shows Possible Links to Alzheimer'sBrain Scans Spot, Track Alzheimer'sFewer Periods May Mean Higher Dementia RiskOnly Spoken Words Processed in Newly Discovered Brain RegionRate of U.S. Deaths Tied to Dementia Has More Than DoubledEven Distant Relatives' History Could Up Your Alzheimer's RiskHealthy Diet Might Not Lower Dementia RiskDementia May Strike Differently, Depending on RaceHormone Therapy Linked to Slight Rise in Alzheimer's RiskSleep Apnea May Be Linked With Alzheimer's MarkerScientists Find 5 New Genes That Sway Alzheimer's RiskActive Brain and Body Are Powerful Weapons Against DementiaAre Hearing Loss, Mental Decline Related?Education No Match Against Alzheimer'sCould Gut Bacteria Be Linked to Dementia Risk?Plunging Temperatures a Threat to People With Alzheimer'sBlood Test Might Yield Early Warning of Alzheimer's
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

For People at High Risk, Evidence That Exercise Might Slow Alzheimer's

HealthDay News
by -- Steven Reinberg
Updated: Sep 19th 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Sept. 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- For people at risk of Alzheimer's disease, working out a couple of times a week might at least slow the onset of the illness, new research suggests.

Regular exercise over a year slowed the degeneration of the part of the brain tied to memory among people who had a buildup of amyloid beta protein in their brain. These protein "plaques" are a hallmark of Alzheimer's, noted researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Aerobic exercise didn't stop plaques from spreading, but it might slow down the effects of amyloid on the brain, especially if started at an early stage, the research team suggested.

"What are you supposed to do if you have amyloid clumping together in the brain? Right now doctors can't prescribe anything," lead researcher Dr. Rong Zhang said in a university news release.

However, "if these findings can be replicated in a larger trial, then maybe one day doctors will be telling high-risk patients to start an exercise plan," he said. "In fact, there's no harm in doing so now."

One expert who wasn't involved in the study agreed with that advice.

"Exercise is an excellent way to both prevent Alzheimer's and to help patients with Alzheimer's disease stay stable for longer periods of time," said Dr. Gayatri Devi, a neurologist specializing in memory disorders at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Aerobic exercise, three to four times a week, has been shown to help grow brain cells in the part of the brain called the hippocampus, the key area for both laying down new memories and for retrieving old ones," she explained.

In the new study, Zhang and colleagues randomly assigned 70 people aged 55 and older to either half-hour workouts of aerobic exercise four to five days a week, or less strenuous flexibility training.

All of the patients had some amyloid plaque buildup in their brains at the beginning of the study, and were classed as having "mild cognitive impairment," often a precursor to Alzheimer's.

Followed over one year, people in both groups maintained similar mental abilities in memory and problem solving, the researchers noted. However, those in the aerobic exercise group showed less shrinkage of the brain's hippocampus as seen on scans. The hippocampus is an area of the brain important to memory and one of the first areas usually affected by Alzheimer's, Zhang's group explained.

"It's interesting that the brains of participants with amyloid responded more to the aerobic exercise than the others," Zhang said. "Although the interventions didn't stop the hippocampus from getting smaller, even slowing down the rate of atrophy through exercise could be an exciting revelation."

To further test the effect of exercise, Zhang is heading up a five-year trial that includes more than 600 older adults, aged 60 to 85, who are at risk for Alzheimer's.

"Understanding the molecular basis for Alzheimer's disease is important," Zhang said. "But the burning question in my field is, 'Can we translate our growing knowledge of molecular biology into an effective treatment?' We need to keep looking for answers."

Dr. Jeremy Koppel is associate professor of psychiatry and molecular medicine at the Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer's Disease & Memory Disorders, at Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. Reading over the new findings, he said that, on the whole, the study was "disappointing" because exercise "did not have any specific effect on tests of memory, mental flexibility or amyloid deposition in patients with mild cognitive impairment."

While the finding regarding hippocampus size was interesting, "this was not the primary outcome measure of the study," Koppel noted. So, "it may be that aerobic exercise interventions are best targeted at those not suffering already from cognitive impairment," he said.

The report was published Sept. 17 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

More information

For more on Alzheimer's disease, head to the Alzheimer's Association.