Break a sweat for your brain
Middle-aged individuals who exercise vigorously enough to perspire and breathe hard for 20 to 30 minutes at least twice a week may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease by 60 percent, according to a Lancet Neurology study released online Oct. 4. The research was funded in part by the Alzheimer's Association.
"It's looking more and more as if getting off the couch is one of the best things you can do for yourself," says William H. Thies, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association vice president, medical and scientific affairs. "Exercise has strong benefits for your heart and overall well-being, and this study adds to a growing body of evidence that it also plays a vital role in keeping your brain healthy. This work is in line with other research suggesting a relatively modest amount of effort can have a big impact. You don't have to run marathons."
In this study, Miia Kivipelto, Ph.D., and her colleagues in Sweden and Finland randomly selected and evaluated 1,449 individuals age 65 to 79 who had undergone physical examinations and answered questions about physical activity and other lifestyle factors during the 1970s and 1980s. The average age at the time of the initial examination was about 50. They found that those engaging in vigorous exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least twice a week had a 60 percent lower likelihood of later developing Alzheimer's than those who were less active.
The researchers also found the risk reduction was even stronger for study participants with APOE-e4, a genetic variation associated with an increased risk but not a certainty of developing Alzheimer's.
For more information, please see:
- The research project of Bengt Winblad, M.D., Ph.D., whose Alzheimer's Association grant partially supports the work reported in this study <insert link>
- Alzheimer's Association Maintain Your Brain®, a public education campaign to raise awareness about brain health <insert link>