Exercise prevents Alzheimer’s disease, reduces symptoms in patients

KELOWNA, British Columbia — Exercise has always been accepted as a physically and mentally healthy practice by the science community. But just how beneficial can exercise be? New research suggests that regular exercise routines can protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus) released the research for public availability mid-May.

People exercising at a park
Worried about Alzheimer’s? A new study finds that regular exercise not only reduces symptoms of the disease, but may even prevent it from developing.

The research was led by Kathleen Martin Ginis, a professor at the university’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. She emphasizes that exercise holds both preventative and symptom relieving benefits for 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,” Ginis explains in a school press release. “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.”

Ginis and the team of researchers reviewed more than 150 research articles regarding cases of Alzheimer’s disease, focusing on the amount of exercise each patient reported. The researchers examined the impact exercise had on the patients’ everyday activities, and sought to determine if the risk of developing the disease was reduced with regular physical activity.

The team concluded that regular exercise improves the physical mobility and the ability to complete basic tasks in older adults with Alzheimer’s. They also recognized a correlation in improved balance and general cognition.

Similarly, they found that those who were not diagnosed with the disease and exercised often were significantly less likely to develop it than those who were inactive.

“From here we were able to prepare a consensus statement and messaging which only has community backing, but is also evidence-based,” says Ginis. “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 the major health concern.”

More than 5 million people in America are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. By 2050, that number could balloon to 16 million, the organization warns.

The study’s findings were published in the BMC Public Health journal.

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