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Your Healthy Family: More exercise linked to delayed onset of Alzheimer’s

Posted at 8:07 AM, Nov 27, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:38-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO – November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

We’ve known for years that exercise is good for our bodies, but more and more, experts are learning that exercise is good for our brains too.

A recent study looked at how exercise can specifically impact people with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The study looked at 372 people who had biomarkers for the rare form of the disease, known as autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease, or ‘ADAD.’

People with ‘ADAD’ have a genetic change that gives them a 100 percent chance of developing Alzheimer’s before age 60.

Participants were divided into groups based on their level of exercise, with one group performing less than the recommended 150 hours of physical activity per week, and one group performing 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week.

“Ultimately what they found was that there seemed to be an association between higher physical activity and a delayed onset to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Cleveland Clinic’s James Leverenz, M.D., who did not take part in the study.

Dr. Leverenz said what’s interesting about this latest research, is that even though people with ‘ADAD’ have a very high risk of developing Alzheimer’s, their level of physical activity seemed to have some influence on when they developed the dementia.

He said the results are promising for those who face a devastating diagnosis of ‘ADAD,’ that even though the outlook is severe, perhaps they can still have some influence on the timing of the onset of the disease.

Experts don’t yet know exactly what level of exercise provides the most benefit when it comes to prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s symptoms, but Dr. Leverenz said previous research has shown that it’s likely best to do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength and balance training.

“Exercise does seem to be good for brain health – try to get to that 150 minute a week level,” he said. ”There is no evidence that it harms you, and a fair amount of evidence now showing that it’s good for brain health; so get out there and exercise.”

Complete results of the study can be found in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.