Exercising once a week could lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s – even if you already have memory and thinking problems
- People with a condition known as mild cognitive impairment were examined
- They are 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the general public
- Those who engage in exercise had an 18 per cent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s
- Researchers say exercise should be advised for people at risk of the disease
Getting exercise at least once per week can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, even if you already have memory issues, a new study revealed.
Researchers from Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea examined health records of people with a condition known as mild cognitive impairment that causes them to have more memory issues than people their age would normally suffer.
Those with the condition that exercise at least once per week were 18 per cent less likely to later develop Alzheimer’s than people with more sedentary lifestyles. .
People with mild cognitive impairment have a ten-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.
Researchers from Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea examined health records of people with a condition known as mild cognitive impairment that causes them to have more memory issues than people their age would normally suffer. Stock image
Korean researchers say people who carried out vigorous or moderate physical activity for at least ten minutes more than once per week had the greatest reduction in overall risk of later developing Alzheimer’s at 18 per cent.
Those who started exercising after their diagnosis still had an 11 per cent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than people who did not exercise at all.
However, for the risk factor to remain lower, people have to continue to exercise even after the diagnosis – as stopping puts you back to square one, they found.
Hanna Cho, study author said regular exercise should be recommended to patients with mild cognitive impairment to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
‘Even if a person with mild cognitive impairment did not exercise regularly before their diagnosis, our results suggest that starting to exercise regularly after diagnosis could significantly lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.’
The authors used electronic health record data of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment from the National Health Insurance Service cohort of Korea from 2009 to 2015. The average age of participants was between 64 and 69 years.
Physical activity was measured using a questionnaire asking participants how much they had exercised in the previous seven days.
Out of the 247,149 participants included in the study, 99,873 did not exercise regularly, 45,598 began exercising after being diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, 45,014 stopped exercising after diagnosis and 56,664 exercised more than once per week before and after diagnosis.
By the end of the follow-up period, 8.7 per cent of those who did not exercise were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease compared with 4.8 per cent of those who exercised more than once per week.
Of those who began exercising after diagnosis, 6.3 per cent went on to develop Alzheimer’s, compared to, 7.7 per cent of those who stopped exercising.
Korean researchers say people who carried out vigorous or moderate physical activity for at least ten minutes more than once per week had the greatest reduction in overall risk of later developing Alzheimer’s at 18 per cent. Stock image
The authors suggest that regular exercise may increase the production of molecules that support the growth and survival of neurons or increase blood flow to the brain.
They theorise that this could prevent a reduction in brain volume that is often associated with dementia.
The authors caution that as information on physical activity was collected at two time points during the study, it is unknown whether the type, intensity, duration or frequency of participants’ exercise changed at any other points.
Further research is needed to assess how long the protective effect of regular physical activity against Alzheimer’s disease lasts and to investigate the biological mechanisms underlying the protective effect.
The findings have been published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour.
There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.
In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.
Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society
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