A new UT Southwestern study has offered yet more evidence affirming the value of exercise in slowing the brain degeneration associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The research is suggesting aerobic exercise may be more effective than mild flexibility training in directly reducing hippocampal deterioration.
It is no newsflash to claim exercising is beneficial, and a substantial volume of recent research has highlighted an array of different ways physical activity can fight back against age-related health decline. This new research offers the first randomized controlled trial ever conducted to specifically examine the effect of aerobic exercise (versus stretching and toning as a control) on cognitive performance and Alzheimer’s brain pathology in adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), widely considered to be the earliest clinically identifiable stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study followed 70 aMCI subjects for 12 months. Half the subjects were directed to complete four to five half-hour aerobic exercise sessions every week, while the other half were the stretching control. Cognitive assessments conducted at the beginning and end of the trial, plus MRI and amyloid PET scans, tracked brain degeneration across the study.