A study recently conducted on patients who were diagnosed with mild forms of Alzheimer displayed a significant difference in brain size–the catalyst was that exercise played a major role if the patients had lager brains than from those who had smaller brain.
The prerequisite for the study included 121 participants that were 60 years of age and up went through a fitness test that utilized a treadmill and a brain scan that determined the three matters of the brain matter (gray matter, white matter) as well as the overall volume of their brains. There were 57 participants that were diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s while all the rest did not have dementia.
“People with early Alzheimer’s disease who were less physically fit had four times more brain shrinkage when compared to normal older adults than those who were more physically fit, suggesting less brain shrinkage related to the Alzheimer’s disease process in those with higher fitness levels,” says study author Jeffrey M. Burns, MD, of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City and member of the American Academy of Neurology.
The results remained the same regardless of age, gender, severity of dementia, physical activity and frailty. There was no relationship between higher fitness levels and brain changes in the group of people without dementia.
“People with early Alzheimer’s disease may be able to preserve their brain function for a longer period of time by exercising regularly and potentially reducing the amount of brain volume lost. Evidence shows decreasing brain volume is tied to poorer cognitive performance, so preserving more brain volume may translate into better cognitive performance,” Dr. Burns stated.
“This is one of the first studies to explore the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Burns.
With all this positive news, Dr. Burns wants to make clear that people should be cautious when interpreting the study results because scientists only observed the standard measure of fitness at one point in time.
Funding for this study came from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the University of Kansas Endowment Association, the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Oppenheimer Foundation.