Researchers say the evidence is increasing that a consistent exercise routine can help you avoid dementia.
Swimming is one of the exercises that can help people with low risk, as well as the high risk that Alzheimer’s reduces their chances of contracting the disease. false images
There is still no cure and there is no vaccine.
But new methods to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s are still emerging.
Exercise has been identified as a way in which the disease could be delayed or diminished.
And, although its effectiveness has not yet been proven, the evidence is beginning to accumulate.
The latter comes from a study that found that patients with a rare form of early onset hereditary disease who exercised for at least 2.5 hours a week had better cognitive performance and fewer signs of Alzheimer’s than those who did not.
That study, published on Tuesday, suggests that the benefits of exercise observed in Alzheimer’s patients may be valid even for those at greatest risk of developing the disease.
This supports the suggestions of previous studies that exercise has beneficial effects, including the slowdown in the rate of cognitive decline in healthy people and those at risk of dementia and in those who already have it.
Some studies have even found that exercise may be related to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
However, many questions remain unresolved, including whether there may be other factors (better diet, more social lifestyle, etc.) that people who exercise more may have and what may be the most important reasons for the benefits.
“Yes we see a separation between those who exercise and those who do not, but many of the studies are observational so far,” Laura D. Baker, PhD, professor of geriatric medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Carolina North who has studied the relationship between exercise and cognitive decline, told Healthline.
“Pose the question, is there something else at stake or is it an exercise in itself?”
Baker, who was not involved in the latest study, said he is conducting clinical trials to try to analyze questions like that.
For now, he said that the scientific consensus that has emerged points to aerobic exercise as the most effective type of physical activity and that makes the biggest difference for those who are already at increased risk due to factors such as aging, cognitive and genetic decline.
But more studies could change that image.
“It does not mean that exercise does not help the younger ones, it’s just that we do not have tools at this time to know if it is helping,” Baker said.
He added that other types of exercise can also have benefits. But the mechanisms of aerobic exercise, in which heart rate and breathing rise for a prolonged period, seem to align with the benefits.
The reason why exercise seems to work may have to do with the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health.
“There is some evidence to suggest that healthy blood pressure and good cardiovascular health are really beneficial for the brain,” Rebecca Edelmayer, PhD, director of scientific participation at the Alzheimer’s Association, told Healthline.
She said that might have to do with decreasing the decrease in the performance of small blood vessels in the brain and increasing the efficiency with which oxygen is pumped through the body.
Baker noted that exercise could combat dementia by increasing the number of synapse connections, improving cell walls to allow better nutrient exchange and improve vascular health.
“Then, basically cleaning the pipes so that the blood can reach the tissue that is supposed to supply,” he said.
In the new study, all participants had the early-onset genetic mutation.
Their physical activity was classified as high or low depending on whether they performed at least 150 minutes of exercise per week or not.
Those with high levels of physical activity were diagnosed with milder dementia 15 years later than those with lower levels. Typically, those with that mutation have Alzheimer’s between 30 and 60 years of age.
That 150-minute figure may not be a magic number, but it’s likely that sustained exercise will be required to see the effects, Baker said.
She said that the current consensus so far is about 30 to 40 minutes three to four times a week.
There is sufficient evidence that the Alzheimer’s Association has described exercise as one of the best lifestyle habits that should be adopted to reduce the risk of dementia.
It also recommends consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, maintaining social relationships and challenging your brain through learning or puzzles.