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Key Takeaways

  • Physically active people are much less likely to suffer from the neurodegenerative action of the Aβ deposits that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
  • More specifically, moderate to intense physical activity in midlife is associated with 12% less cognitive decline and a 40 to 45% lower incidence of dementia compared to that seen in sedentary people.
  • People who regularly engage in physical exercise in midlife are about 17-30% less likely to develop amyloid deposits in the brain.
  • The beneficial effect of physical exercise seems to be cumulative, so maintaining a high level of physical activity throughout all one’s lifespan is essential for maximum benefit. The sooner you start, the better.

Actions to Consider

  • In this study, people who walked more than 8,300 steps per day did not experience a cognitive decline even in cases of extremely high Aβ burden. 
  • Walking isn’t the only form of physical activity you can practice to keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Weightlifting, swimming, running, or playing sports are great options for staying active and moving as well.

A workout a day keeps Alzheimer’s away

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by the formation of amyloid beta (Aβ)—a pathological protein plaque that impairs brain function and structure.

The condition starts slowly, usually after the age of 65, and gradually worsens with the years leading to severe cognitive decline. 

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-70% of all cases of dementia.

There is no treatment for the disorder. Still, recent studies have reported that physical exercise can be a great way of preventing Alzheimer’s disease or slowing down the rate of cognitive decline in  people who already have the condition.

A simple remedy to a mysterious condition

In many aspects, Alzheimer’s disease remains a mystery—even a whole century after its initial description in 1906.

The scientific and medical community doesn’t have a single opinion on what causes the condition. The Aβ hypothesis is the most popular one, but it remains a hypothesis.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a puzzling discrepancy between amyloid levels and the rate of cognitive decline. Sometimes a tiny plaque causes violent dementia, while in other cases cognition is preserved even with massive Aβ deposits. 

On the bright side of things, it seems that physical exercise effectively prevents the condition and preserves cognitive function in people who already have Alzheimer’s disease.

The many benefits of physical exercise for the brain

How does physical activity protect the brain from the detrimental effect of Aβ amyloid? The exact mechanism is unknown, but the benefits are exciting nevertheless!

  • Prevents brain atrophy
  • Enhances the integrity of the brain’s neural networks
  • Promotes memory
  • Improves circadian rhythms
  • Supports vascular health

Conclusion

Daily physical exercise is an effective way of preventing Alzheimer’s disease or preventing cognitive decline in people who already have the condition. 

There are many ways to be physically active: go out there and find the one you like most!

Studies indicate that the sooner you start, the better the effects, so let’s get movin’.

Link to the article:

https://www.alzforum.org/news/conference-coverage/physical-activity-may-shield-brain-onslaught-av

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