Researchers have found that regular exercise may help decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, characterised by progressive neurodegeneration that results in memory loss, compromised physical ability and loss of independence.
In a study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, the team of researchers also confirmed that regular physical activity may improve the performance of daily activities for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
“As there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s, there is an urgent need for interventions to reduce the risk of developing it and to help manage the symptoms,” said the study first author Kathleen Martin Ginis, Professor at University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Canada.
“After evaluating all the research available, our panel agrees that physical activity is a practical, economical and accessible intervention for both the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” Martin Ginis said.
The researchers reviewed data from more than 150 research articles about the impact of physical activity on people with Alzheimer’s.
Some of the work explored how physical activity improves the patient’s quality of life and the others examined the risk of developing Alzheimer’s based on the amount of activity in which an individual participated.
The panel concluded that regular physical activity improves activities of daily living and mobility in older adults with Alzheimer’s and may improve general cognition and balance.
They also established that older adults not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who are physically active, were significantly less likely to develop the disease compared to people who were inactive.
“This is exciting work,” Martin Ginis said.
“From here we were able to prepare a consensus statement and messaging which not only has community backing, but is also evidence-based. Now we have the tool to promote the protective benefit of physical activity to older adults. I’m hopeful this will move the needle on this major health concern,” Martin Ginis said.