Nearly everyone knows that exercise is good for us, but who would have thought that it can slow, or even reverse the dreaded Alzheimers disease?
According to a study released at the 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, patients diagnosed with early Alzheimer's disease who exercised regularly saw less deterioration in areas of the brain that control memory.
Mild Alzheimer's disease patients with higher physical fitness had larger brains compared to those with lower physical fitness, according to a study published in the July issue of Neurology.
In the study, 121 people age 60 and older underwent fitness tests using a treadmill as well as brain scans to measure the white matter, gray matter and total volume of their brains.
Of the group, 57 were in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease while the rest of the group did not have dementia.
Study author Jeffrey M. Burns, MD, of the University of Kansas School of Medicine commented, People with early Alzheimer's disease who were less physically fit had four times more brain shrinkage when compared to those who were more physically fit.
This suggests less brain shrinkage related to the Alzheimer's disease process in those with higher fitness levels."
It is noteworthy that the results of this study remained the same regardless of age, gender, and severity of dementia, physical activity and frailty.
"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," Burns said.
"This is one of the first studies to explore the relationship between Alzheimers and exercise (cardio respiratory fitness)," said Burns.
Other studies show that people who walk regularly show significant improvement in memory skills, learning ability, reasoning, and concentration.
Stroke risk was cut by a whopping 57% in people who walked as little as 20 minutes per day.
In the higher energy groups they showed up to 40% less cognitive decline.