Exercise may be able to slow Alzheimer brain atrophy

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A recent study has found that exercise may be able to slow Alzheimer brain atrophy. According to the study, which was published in the July 15 issue of Neurology, Individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and high oxygen consumption levels during a treadmill test showed less atrophy in the brain than those that were less fit and had early-stage Alzheimer’s. Researchers commenting stated, “…to our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate a direct relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and measures of whole brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the findings:

In 57 patients with dementia, peak oxygen consumption was associated with whole brain volume (beta=0.35, P=0.02) and with white matter volume (beta=0.35, P=0.04), as determined by MRI imaging, after controlling for patients’ age.

The relationship between fitness and brain volume remained significant after accounting for other covariates, including sex, dementia severity, reported level of physical activity, and physical frailty.

However, results of 15 standard tests of cognitive performance were not significantly associated with peak oxygen consumption after controlling for age.

In an interview, Dr. Burns said the study may have been underpowered to find a significant effect on cognitive performance. “The correlations were in the right direction for the most part,” he said.

In a control group of 64 people who did not have dementia, there was no relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and brain volume or cognitive performance after controlling for age.

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