We can add yet another benefit to the long and growing list of reasons one should incorporate an exercise routine into their lifestyle. However, this time, the latest benefit may be of great importance to those who may be at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study conducted by the University of Sydney identified and observed a group of 100 people who are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease with a decline in memory, cognitive thinking skills and other signs of memory impairment. The study participants were segmented into four groups and assigned separate tasks that were hypothesized to increase their cognitive function. These tasks were conducted throughout a six-month period and included brain training with computer-generated tasks, strength training, a mixture of both of these and a control group for comparison.
The strength training group completed two, 90-minutes regimens of resistance training per week, broken up into two, 45-minute guided and monitored sessions. Following the six consistent months of training, study subjects were monitored for any changes for a full year. It was at around the 12-month mark that marked improvements were observed in the group who participated in strength training. Specifically, MRI results showed the shrinking of areas of the hippocampus, a common occurrence in memory decline, slowed at a significantly higher rates than the control group whose participants showed a standard and expected decline rate.
The leaders of the study will need to fully dive into the reasons why the resistance sessions had such an impact, in addition to the longevity of these results. For now, researchers from the study team have two theories they are basing these positive and exciting results on.
One theory is that the feel-good chemicals released into the body during exercise have anti-inflammatory, healing properties that are good for the brain. The second theory is that following a repetitive, consistent, or exercise routine can stimulate brain activity, reverse memory impairment and help to prevent degeneration of the hippocampus.
Physical movement has long been a hot topic for researchers searching for answers about curing or slowing memory impairment.
This is a very personal cause to me, and I hope you’ll join in me in the “I Am Dementia Aware” movement that I’ve launched to raise awareness about the experience of living with and caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms.