Can Exercise Help Cognitive Function in Older Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s?

Can Exercise Help Cognitive Function in Older Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s?

Exercise training is frequently recommended to older adults as a way to promote overall wellness and brain health. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides specific exercise recommendations regarding time and intensity for adults ages 65 and older, but these recommendations have been mostly based on expert opinion. Recently, researchers analyzed 19 different randomized controlled studies that scientifically tested the impacts of exercise training on cognitive function in older adults who were diagnosed with or at risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

The findings were exciting: moderate-intensity exercise performed about 3 days a week for about 45 minutes each time led to improved cognitive function and slowed cognitive decline compared to control groups. This study provides support for the WHO’s current exercise guidelines, and the findings also suggest that aerobic exercise specifically may be more effective, compared to resistance or combined aerobic and resistance exercise, which can be explored further in future research.

The take-away? For older adults diagnosed with or at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, following the WHO’s exercise recommendations can slow cognitive decline and actually improve cognitive function. With Alzheimer’s Disease being the 6th leading cause of death and affecting over 5 million Americans, more research into treatments and preventative measures is increasingly crucial. Later this month, the Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring one of the year’s biggest awareness and fundraising efforts, called The Longest Day. Find out more about this amazing event and how you can participate from anywhere at http://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=10935&pg=entry. Stay tuned to hear more from MedOptions about The Longest Day!

Panza, G. A., Taylor, B. A., MacDonald, H. V., Johnson, B. T., Zaleski, A. L., Livingston, J. , Thompson, P. D. and Pescatello, L. S. (2018), Can Exercise Improve Cognitive Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?. J Am Geriatr Soc, 66: 487-495. doi:10.1111/jgs.15241