Exercise important for those at special risk for Alzheimer’s

Friday, November 19, 2010

WASHINGTON - People who are more prone to cognitive decline, including development of Alzheimer’s disease, can decrease their risk by doing regular exercising, a new study has suggested.

J. Carson Smith of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) included in the study both people who carry a high-risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease, and other healthy older adults without the gene.

“Our study suggests that if you are at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the benefits of exercise to your brain function might be even greater than for those who do not have that genetic risk,” said Smith.

A team of researchers compared brain activation during memory processing in four separate groups of healthy 65- to 85-years-olds.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure brain activation of participants while they performed a mental task involving discriminating among famous people.

“When a person thinks about people - for example, Frank Sinatra or Lady Gaga - that involves several lobes of the brain,” explained Smith.

In the study groups of those carrying the gene, individuals who exercised showed greater brain activity in memory-related regions than those who were sedentary.

Perhaps even more intriguing, physically active people with the gene had greater brain activity than those who were physically active but not gene carriers.

There are many physiological reasons why this could be happening, said Smith.

“For example, people with this increased activation might be compensating for some underlying neurological event that is involved in cognitive decline. Using more areas of their brain may serve as a protective function, even in the face of disease processes,” he added. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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