The six-minute exercise that could help prevent Alzheimer’s – study

Alzheimers Research UK explain 'what is dementia?'

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Dementia describes a destructive set of symptoms associated with cognitive decline. Despite what many people think, the brain condition is not a direct result of ageing. Fortunately, this means there are ways to reduce your risk. Now, a new study suggests that six minutes of a certain activity a day could help.

From your diet to your exercise routine, there’s no doubt a healthy lifestyle can be quite effective at staving off various health problems.

The latter – exercise – was now proven to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease in new research.

What’s more, you don’t have to spend hours sweating in a gym, as six minutes a day should be enough to do the trick.

Short bursts of activity that work up a sweat can boost a protein essential for brain formation, learning and memory.

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However, the exercise you choose also plays a part, with the research team explaining it has to be strenuous.

While strenuous exercise is guaranteed to make you break a sweat, there are plenty of activities to choose from.

Some examples of strenuous exercise include jogging, running, aerobic dancing, jumping rope, single tennis, and cycling.

The study found that a molecule known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) increased up to fivefold after a hard bout of cycling.

Lead author Travis Gibbons said: “BDNF has shown great promise in animal models.

“But pharmaceutical interventions have thus far failed to safely harness the protective power of BDNF in humans.

“We saw the need to explore non-pharmacological approaches that can preserve the brain’s capacity which humans can use to naturally increase BDNF to help with healthy ageing.”

The key chemical seems to fuel neuroplasticity – the ability to build fresh connections and pathways – and the survival of brain cells.

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Looking at mice, the research team revealed BDNF encourages the formation and storage of memories, enhancing learning and improving cognitive performance overall.

The findings have led to great interest in the protein among ageing experts who hope to harness its powers.

The New Zealand team discovered high-intensity exercise – in this case a six-minute session of vigorous cycling – worked best.

Blood samples showed amounts of BDNF soared four to five times more after the physical activity.

The new findings are based on 12 physically active participants – both men and women – aged 18 to 56.

The phenomenon may be due to the increased number of platelets – the smallest blood cells – which store large quantities of BDNF.

However, further investigations are currently needed to understand the mechanisms involved.

Plus, the study was only conducted on a small population sample that can’t represent everyone.

The study is published in The Journal of Physiology.

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