Exercise and dementia (research updates from Alzforum)

This post may be of general interest since many of us are dealing with dementia or will be dealing with dementia at some point in our lives.

At the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington DC (mid-July), a lot of research was presented on exercise.  The Alzforum has two good summaries of the research.

The first summary is here:


The first summary examines research into whether Alzheimer’s disease can be tempered by aerobic exercise and whether dementia can be avoided through exercise:

“Speakers…presented new evidence that regular aerobic exercise can help people in prodromal disease stages maintain their cognition, while for those with full-blown dementia it relieves neuropsychiatric symptoms. Some studies provided hints that exercise can also hone thinking at the dementia stage, but only if the participants reach moderate intensity heart rates during their workout. Exactly how exercise helps the brain is still not known, but several talks reported better cerebral blood flow and improved structural and functional connectivity in exercisers, and even some signs that six months or more of physical activity can slow pathology.  Researchers agreed that the duration and intensity of an exercise intervention are crucial to determining its effects. For aerobic exercise in particular, the field is standardizing methods and narrowing in on the appropriate dose to prescribe. Some believe supervised exercise classes could become part of the standard of care for people with cognitive problems. … Researchers have few doubts now that exercise protects normal older adults against brain decline.”

(prodromal = before symptoms appear)

The second summary is here:


The second summary explores research into whether exercise can slow the progression of a neurodegenerative process:

“Overall, the findings indicated that working out enhances vascular brain health and connectivity, implying a direct benefit to brain structure and function. Data were mixed on whether exercise slows the progression of underlying Alzheimer’s pathology, however. One six-month study of moderate aerobic exercise reported a drop in cerebrospinal fluid tau in cognitively impaired people, but a shorter intervention failed to budge brain amyloid in people with AD. In general, speakers agreed that the cognitive boost from exercise likely comes from diverse benefits on several different aspects of brain function, something that would be hard to match pharmacologically.”

Both summaries are worth reading if exercise research is of interest.

While this may be a good day to go to the gym, this is probably not a good day to exercise outdoors.

Stay cool,