The Positive Connection between Exercise and Alzhiemers Patients

Ahh...the benefits of exercise...enough just cannot be said about exercise.

Alzheimer's disease is one that robs a patients mind, their friends, family and loved ones. The International conference on Alzheimers Disease in Chicago recently revealed that patients with early Alzheimer's disease who exercised regularly saw less deterioration in the areas of the brain which control memory.The Benefits of Exercise and the connection with Alzheimer's

The study involved 121 people 60 and over, who were exposed to fitness tests while at the same time measuring measuring their white and grey brain matter and overall brain volume using MRI. Fifty-seven of the participants had early-stage Alzheimer's while the rest of the participants did not have dementia.

Reading the MRI's showed that a positive effect on the hippocampus region of patients' brains, an area which is important for both memory and balance. In an Alzheimer's patient, the hippocampus part of the brain is one of the first parts to suffer damage. Physical exercise has shown to slow age related brain cell death in healthy older adults.

Most importantly, a correlation was made between size of key brain areas associated with memory and fitness. Researchers discovered that patients with early onset of Alzheimer's had significant atrophy of brain tissue.

"This is the first study to get an inside look into specifically where these changes occur in the brain — we're able to locate the changes associated with fitness to the actual memory region, the hippocampus, which is a key area for Alzheimer's-related atrophy," said Robyn A. Honea, PhD, a lead investigator on the study. "This suggests that maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness may positively modify Alzheimer's-related brain atrophy."

The Study also noted "Higher fitness through increased physical activity has been associated with enhanced neuronal survival to brain insults, increased vascularization, and elevations of growth factors in areas important for memory,"

At present there is no cure for Alzheimers disease, and it is devasting for the patient and their families. It is reassuring to see that research continues to be done in this very important disease that affects so many. Simple exercise can allow early stage Alzheimer's patients to preserve their cognitive function longer.

Source: Neurology, July 15 2008

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