Exercise, stretching, range of motion, and aerobic exercise are all said to slow cognitive decline

“My concern at the beginning of the study was ‘What if only aerobics changed?’ I wish the majority of Americans the best of luck. aerobic exercise on a regular basis!’ This is not sustainable,” says the author of the study Laura Baker, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, via email.

“However, we found that cognitive function did not decline over 12 months for either intervention group — people who did aerobic exercise or people who did stretching, balance and range of motion,” Baker said.

Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, welcomed the findings that 120 to 150 minutes of exercise per week for 12 months could slow cognitive decline in sedentary older adults with mild dementia.

Tanzi, studied the role of exercise in non-research mice genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease by stimulating the birth of new neurons in the brain region most affected by Alzheimer’s and also increasing beneficial growth factors that improve neuronal activity. .

“The benefits of interventions seen in mouse models of Alzheimer’s often do not translate to patients. It is exciting to see that the benefits of exercise in this new study translate from mice to humans,” Tanzi said. Department of Genetics and Aging Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

What is mild cognitive decline?

The study, presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer’s Association 2022 International Conference in San Diego, followed 296 participants who were completely sedentary at the start of the experiment. All were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment — the earliest stage of slow-slide dementia.

“People with mild cognitive impairment are not cognitively normal, but they don’t have dementia,” Baker said. “They’re perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but what they have to go through to do that is exhausting.

“‘I can’t remember where I’m supposed to be. Let me check my calendar. Oops, I forgot to write on this calendar. Let’s check another calendar. Oops, I can’t find that calendar. I’ve lost. my phone. Where The key? I can’t find the key.’

“They can get back together in the early stages and make things happen,” Baker said, “but the cost is huge.”

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Study participants underwent two cognitive tests and were then randomized into groups. One group performed moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on treadmills or stationary bikes to achieve a goal. 70% to 85% of heart rate reserve: “That’s about 120 beats per minute for a standard 70-year-old for about 30 to 40 minutes,” Baker said.

Another group did stretching, balance, and range-of-motion exercises to help them move their bodies in a way that would help them navigate in real life.

“People in the balanced movement group said they were happy – they could go to soccer games with their grandchildren without fear of tripping, or they wouldn’t be able to drive and turn their necks and see behind them,” Baker said.

The meaning of support

Both groups exercised twice a week with a personal trainer and then twice a week on their own for the first 12 months. During that time, the groups completed more than 31,000 exercise sessions, Baker said.

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At the end of 12 months, cognitive function did not decline in either group. That’s impressive, Baker said, because a control group of people with mild cognitive impairment who didn’t exercise declined.

Research shows that social support is also key to improving brain health. Therefore, the results of the study may be Was it due to increased social support rather than exercise?

“Well, we don’t know for sure,” Baker said. “But there’s enough science showing that exercise only benefits brain health. So that shouldn’t be swept under the rug.”

“The and Our recommendation is that people with mild cognitive impairment never do it alone,” he added. “They need support. So exercise is not the only prescription. Exercise with support is the recipe and this will be our recommendation.

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