Exercise May Delay Cognitive Decline in People with Alzheimer's Disease

Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD) is a type of rare Alzheimer’s disease and caused by a genetic mutation. People with ADAD may develop dementia at a relatively young age.

According to a new study presented online by Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, participating in at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week may have beneficial effects on markers of Alzheimer’s disease brain changes and help delay cognitive decline, and it can work even in rare Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers analyzed data collected from 275 individuals (average age 38.4) and found that individuals who engaged in more physical activity scored better on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes (CDR-SOB), which are well-accepted standard measures of cognition and function.

The authors of this paper say that their results show a significant relationship between physical activity, cognition, functional status and Alzheimer’s disease pathology even in individuals with genetically-driven autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD).

The officially recommended physical activity duration of 150 minutes per week was associated with significantly better cognition and less Alzheimer’s disease pathology in ADAD. From a public health perspective, this amount of physical activity was achieved by 70% of all ADAD individuals participating at the DIAN study. Therefore, a physically active lifestyle is achievable and may play an important role in delaying the development and progression of ADAD.

The researcher also claimed that individuals who exercised more had lower levels of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid, including lower tau, a protein that builds up in the brains of people living with Alzheimer’s disease. However, individual trajectories of cognitive changes have not been assessed in this cross-sectional study.

The authors added: “A physically active lifestyle is achievable and may play an important role in delaying the development and progression of ADAD. Individuals at genetic risk for dementia should therefore be counselled to pursue a physically active lifestyle.”

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