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Regular exercise can slow down memory loss in dementia patients

Published on:28 February 2021, 12:59pm IST
We know that exercise can boost brain health, but did you know that in people with Alzheimer’s disease it can actually slow down memory loss.
ANI
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Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease can greatly benefit from exercise. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Exercising regularly has many health benefits, but did you know aerobic exercise could also benefit older adults living with Alzheimer’s dementia?

According to a new research, aerobic exercise may help in slowing memory loss for older adults living with Alzheimer’s dementia. The findings of the study were described in a recently published article, ‘Cognitive Effects of Aerobic Exercise in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial’, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here is how this Alzheimer’s study was conducted

ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation Professor Fang Yu led a pilot randomised control trial that included 96 older adults living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia.

Participants were randomised to either cycling (stationary bike) or stretching intervention for six months. Using the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognition (ADAS-Cog) to assess cognition, the results of the trial were substantial.

mobility in elderly
Regular exercise can help the elderly deal with a lot more than just mobility issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The six-month change in ADAS-Cog was 1.0 -4.6 (cycling) and 0.1 -4.1 (stretching), which were both significantly less than the expected 3.2 -6.3-point increase observed naturally with disease progression.

“Our primary finding indicates that a six-month aerobic exercise intervention significantly reduced cognitive decline in comparison to the natural course of changes for Alzheimer’s dementia,” Yu said.

Working out in groups could also have some benefits

Yu added, “However, we didn’t find a superior effect of aerobic exercise to stretching, which is likely due to the pilot nature of our trial. We don’t have the statistical power to detect between-group differences, there was substantial social interaction effect in the stretching group, and many stretching participants did some aerobic exercise on their own.”

Also read: 5 foods that can reduce your risk of dementia

Yu noted that their results are encouraging and support the clinical relevance of promoting aerobic exercise in individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia to maintain cognition.

“Aerobic exercise has a low profile of adverse events in older adults with Alzheimer’s dementia as demonstrated by our trial,” said Yu.

Yu concluded, “Regardless of its effect on cognition, the current collective evidence on its benefits supports the use of aerobic exercise as an additional therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”