In a new study from the University of Texas, researchers found one year of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise training improved heart and respiratory fitness, cerebral blood flow, memory and executive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.
The findings suggest improvement in cerebrovascular function from exercise training also has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60–80% of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The group estimates more than 6 million people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s.
In this study, the team tested 37 people with mild cognitive impairment, which is a precursor stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
At the beginning of the study, the subjects participated in three exercise sessions per week that consisted of brisk walking for 25–30 minutes.
By week 11, they exercised four times a week, walking briskly uphill for 30–35 minutes per session. After week 26, exercise sessions increased to four to five times per week for 30–40 minutes.
Using these findings as a building block, a new two-year study is underway to determine the long-term impact of aerobic exercise on Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers’ goal is to turn the findings of both studies into more practical ways to mitigate the risk of the disease.
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The study is published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. One author of the study is Tsubasa Tomoto, Ph.D.
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