According to Mayoclinic.com a recent report for the Alzheimer’s Association predicts that 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. alone. This staggering number translates to about one out of every eight baby boomer.
While new treatments are constantly being studied and analyzed many believe that a cure will not be readily available during this lifetime. However, studies keep point to the fact that physical activity or exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease. Beyond a healthy heart and regulated body weight, studies suggest that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk for Alzheimer’s. In fact, it looks as though exercise inhibits Alzheimer’s-like brain changes in mice which decelerate the development of a major component of the disease.
Researchers have found that women age 65 and older who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in mental function than inactive women. Another study was conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago in which mice, after having been bred to develop Alzheimer’s type plaque in the brain were allowed to exercise while others were not. The brains in the physically active mice had 50 to 80 percent less plaque than the brains of the sedentary mice and the exercising mice produced significantly more of an enzyme in the brain that prevents plaque.
Another study completed at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System also tested the effects of aerobic training on 33 women and men diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which is often considered a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Oregonlive.com 23 of the volunteers, selected randomly, began an intense program of aerobic exercise, consisting of 45 to 60 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike four days a week. The remaining 10, the study’s control group, spent the same amount of time performing non-aerobic stretching and balance exercises.
After six months, the aerobic exercisers showed significant gains in mental agility, while the non-aerobic group showed continuing decline in tests of thinking speed, fluency with words and ability to multi-task.
Even though it still remains unknown whether exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s, many scientists believe that lifestyle factors including exercise, mental stimulation and strong social connections are more likely to help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease than any existing pharmaceuticals or supplements.