If you want to maintain optimal brainpower and avoid Alzheimer’s disease, regular exercise may prove to be the very best medicine. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers were able to show that moderate intensity, aerobic exercise improved memory recall and enhanced brain cell efficiency in older at risk adults. For this study, researchers had two different groups of sedentary older adults walk briskly on a treadmill for about 30 minutes 5 days a week. One study group had normal brain function and the second group had the diagnosis of “mild cognitive impairment”, a condition that signals a much higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. After the 12 week walking program study, both groups showed measurable and significant improvements in both their cardiovascular and brain function. Consistent with their improvements in tests of memory function, MRI scans of the study subject’s brains showed enhanced brain cell efficiency in areas of the brain typically affected in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers involved with the study commented that no interventions to date, including medications, had shown improvements in brain function on par with their results from exercise.
It is truly encouraging that something as simple, easy, and cheap as brisk walking can offer hope for avoiding or mitigating one of the most life-robbing of all age-related diseases. Make the commitment to yourself and to your loved ones to exercise regularly for the rest of your life!
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(Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, August 2013)