No Alzheimer drug works as well as exercise

Exercise could be the best medicine against Alzheimer’s. A study of persons with slight cognitive impairments found that brain functions had improved following a 12-week, moderate training program. The results were published in the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease”.

Researchers at the University of Maryland divided the study participants (60 to 88 years old) into two groups, the one with slight cognitive impairments, the other without, and let both groups complete a continuous, 12-week exercise program that mainly focused on regular treadmill walking. The intensity conformed to the recommendations for these age groups of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. The subjects underwent examination by functional MRI and a memory test prior to, and following, the exercise program.

Not only did the cardiovascular fitness improve by ten percent in both groups during this time, but their cognitive abilities also improved. The memory recall function was enhanced and the brain worked more efficiently. At the end of the study, the subjects needed fewer neural resources to master the same memory tasks.

“No study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise”, said study leader, J. Carson Smith. “People with MCI are on a very sharp decline in their memory function, so being able to improve their recall is a very big step in the right direction.

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