Can Exercise Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Blood To Brain A Critical Prevention Strategy

New research out of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health shows that exercise may improve cognitive function in those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease by improving the efficiency of brain activity associated with memory.

Alzheimers epidemic

Memory loss leading to Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest fears among older Americans. While some memory loss is normal and to be expected as we age, a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, signals more substantial memory loss and a greater risk for Alzheimer’s, for which there currently is no cure.

The study, led by Dr. J. Carson Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, provides new hope for those diagnosed with MCI. It is the first to show that exercise intervention with older adults with mild cognitive impairment (average age 78) improves not only memory recall, but also brain function, as measured by functional neuroimaging (via fMRI). The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“We found that after 12 weeks of being on a moderate exercise program,” Dr. Smith explains, “study participants improved their neural efficiency – basically they were using fewer neural resources to perform the same memory task. No study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise.”

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About Gary Chandler

Gary Chandler is an author, advocate and strategist on health and environmental issues.
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