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Alzheimer's Disease and Exercise

Gretchen Heuring for ElderThink


Regular exercise that makes us huff and puff definitely slows down the aging process in general. The increased blood flow and charge of exygen does wonders for our skin and all our other organs. Best of all, it "clears the mind" by recharging the brain. Some researchers think regular aerobic exercise slows the progression of Alzheimer's.


Break A Sweat Daily

A study by the University of Washington School of Medicine and Puget Sound Veterans Affairs involved people with an average age of 70. One group worked on aerobic exercise with a fitness trainer. A second group did stretching exercises. After six months the aerobics group showed a definite improvement in cognition. An additional benefit: the women in the aerobic group showed reduced fasting levels of insulin and cortisol. What all this means is that regular aerobic exercise improves brain function and, for women, reduces the possibility of Diabetes.


Show Off Those Bio markers

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, working with 69 volunteers aged 59-80, tested cerebrospinal fluid and PET scan images of amyloid in the brain. The volunteers who had followed a regular aerobic exercise program of thirty minutes five times a week had decreased levels of amyloid in the brain as well as lowered levels of tau.


Grow Your Hippocampus

Using MRI imaging, researchers have learned that regular physical exercise has the greatest impact on an area of the brain called the hippocampus. They have been able to pinpoint the dentate gyrus within the hippocampus as benefiting the most and this is the region of the brain that loses function in memory loss. Dr. Scott Small at Columbia University and his team are working to identify the key proteins that respond to exercise. Another study published this year by researchers at Fonheim's Hospital for Mental Health, Liedenburg, Germany demonstrated that the hippocampus actually grows with aerobic exercise.


Sprout Some Dendrites.

Researchers at Università Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy have demonstrated that regular aerobic exercise actually causes our bodies to grow new brain cells. The new dendrites are first created in the areas of our brain where we retain memory.