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Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s by exercising 4 times a week

Exercising can keey Alzheimer's t bay
Exercising can keey Alzheimer’s t bay

A new study by the Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the US has revealed that exercising at least four times a week sharpens all areas of your brain – drastically cutting your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team led by Dr Laura Baker used a new MRI technique and included 35 adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) participating in a randomized, controlled trial of exercise intervention.

The participants were divided into two groups:

Sixteen adults (average age 63 years) engaged in aerobic activity, including treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical training, four times per week for six months.

There also was a control group of 19 adults (average age 67 years) who participated in stretching exercises with the same frequency.

High-resolution brain MR images were acquired from all participants before and after the six-month activity period.

The MRI results were compared using conventional and biomechanical metrics to measure the change in both brain volume and shape.

The team used high-resolution MR images to measure anatomical changes within areas of the brain to obtain both volumetric data and directional information.

The researchers found that:

  • Adults with mild cognitive impairment who exercised four times a week over a six-month period experienced an increase in brain volume.
  • Adults who participated in aerobic exercise experienced greater gains than those who just stretched.
  • Even over a short period of time aerobic exercise can lead to a remarkable change in the brain.
  • The analysis revealed that for both the aerobic and stretching groups, brain volume increased in most gray matter regions, including the temporal lobe, which supports short-term memory.
  • Compared to the stretching group, the aerobic activity group had greater preservation of total brain volume, increased local gray matter volume and increased directional stretch of brain tissue.
  • Study participants were tested to determine the effect of exercise intervention on cognitive performance.
  • Participants in the aerobic exercise group showed statistically significant improvement in executive function after six months, whereas the stretching group did not improve.
  • Any type of exercise can be beneficial by creating potential benefits for higher cognitive functioning.



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