Exercise may protect against Alzheimer’s

Stockholm: Exercising at least twice weekly in middle age can help prevent the congitive brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Researchers at the Ageing Research Centre at the Karolinksa Institute in Stockholm have discovered that people in their late 40s and early 50s could cut their risk of developing these diseases by about 50 per cent simply by becoming more active, according to a study.

Dr Miia Kivipelto, of the Ageing Research Centre at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said: ‘If an individual adopts an active lifestyle in youth and at mid-life, this may increase their probabilityof enjoying both physically and cognitively vital years in their life.’

The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet Neurology, involved nearly 1,500 men and women, of whom nearly 200 developed dementia or Alzheimer’s between the ages of 65 and 79.

The researchers looked back at how physically active the volunteers had been up to 21 years earlier, when they would have been in middle-age.
Those who developed Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia were far less likely to have been active in midlife than those who remained free of dementia.

The minimum amount of exercise that appeared to be protective was physical activity that lasted 20-30 minutes at least twice a week and which was enough to cause breathlessness and sweating.

Dr Kivipelto said that regular physical exercise might protect against dementia by keeping the small blood vessels of the brain healthy.

It could also help prevent conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure which make people more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

Other research has shown that mentally demanding jobs and everyday stimulating activities such as chatting on the phone, watching television or listening to the radio help to keep people mentally alert because it involves information processing.

This may help maintain a ‘reserve’ of brain cells that resists the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.