Daily exercise has many health benefits aside from potentially helping you get in shape.
Past research found that just 35 minutes of daily exercise, which adds up to four hours of exercise a week, can decrease the chances of experiencing periods of depression by nearly 20%. In addition, specific exercises like cycling, have been linked to reducing stress, which had a positive effect in the office as job satisfaction increased by 19%.
But exercise also has a big influence on preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. With a weekly cardio regimen, brain function can improve for those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, especially for individuals where the disease runs through family history, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin published their findings in Brain Plasticity, where they examined the benefits of aerobic exercise and what it does to the brain. Past research found that 30 minutes of daily exercise may be the key to reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms, but this new study focused on people more at risk of developing the disease, specifically wondering if a strict exercise routine would benefit people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease but who currently do not show symptoms of the disease yet.
“This study is a significant step toward developing an exercise prescription that protects the brain against AD, even among people who were previously sedentary,” said lead investigator Ozioma C. Okonkwo, Ph.D., of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, in a press release.
For the study, researchers investigated 23 people, between the ages 45 and 80, with a family history of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. All participants had sedentary lifestyles, which means they weren’t very active. Researchers then split the participants into two groups, where one group received information about how to have an active lifestyle but no guided assistance, while the second group received a personal trainer three times per week over six months, which was described as a “moderate intensity treadmill training program.”
Following the end of the trial, participants who were assigned to the fitness program recorded better cognitive tests than those in the non-exercise group. However, episodic memory — which is a person’s own way of remember things — did not improve, according to researchers.
“This research shows that a lifestyle behavior — regular aerobic exercise — can potentially enhance brain and cognitive functions that are particularly sensitive to the disease. The findings are especially relevant to individuals who are at a higher risk due to family history or genetic predisposition,” Dr. Okonkwo said.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. In recent years, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased drastically by 145% between 2000 and 2017, while deaths from heart disease decreased by 9% in that spell.
One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, which kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, according to the website.