Simple exercise can slow down memory loss

New research shows that even a simple exercise program can help older adults with mild or moderate memory problems.

Doctors have long advised patients to exercise for a healthy brain. But the US government-backed study marks the longest-running study of whether exercise makes a difference when memory begins to decline.

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The researchers recruited nearly 300 inactive older adults with what they called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with memory changes. MCI is a condition that sometimes precedes Alzheimer’s disease.

Half of the adults did aerobic exercises, while the rest did stretching and balance movements that slightly raised their heart rate.

Both groups attracted the attention of trainers who worked with them at the centers of youth organizations called YMCAs in the United States. During the COVID-19 shutdown sports hallstrainers helped with the study participants Stay home with video calls.

Lead researcher Laura Baker of Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina found that mental performance tests after one year showed deterioration in both groups. brain scans didn’t show the shrinking associated with worsening memory problems, he said.

By comparison, in another long-term study of brain health, similar MCI patients — but without exercise — experienced cognitive, or mental, decline over the course of a year.

The initial findings are surprising. But the National Institute on Aging cautioned that the same study would have looked at those who didn’t exercise.

“possible for everyone”

The results suggest “it’s possible for everyone” — not just healthy people who sweat profusely, Baker said. He recently presented data at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. “Exercise should be part of prevention strategies” for at-risk seniors, he added.

Maria Carrillo is the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief research officer. He says previous research has found any type of regular physical activity can reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to the brain.

He added that the new study is particularly interesting because the COVID-19 pandemic began halfway through the study. This meant that the participants in the study were socially isolated or isolated from others. According to Carrillo, social isolation increases people’s risk of memory problems.

Challenges of research

difficult time for dementia the research. Doctors are not sure write down An expensive new drug called Aduhelm. The drug is supposed to be the first drug to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, but it is not yet known whether it will actually help patients.

Scientists announced last month that another drug had failed in a pivotal study. It is also purposeful amyloid plaques in the brain.

The question of whether or not to exercise is growing, and other steps may offer at least some protection.

How much and what kind of exercise?

In Baker’s office, the elderly had to move for 30-45 minutes four times a week. It doesn’t matter if it’s treadmill exercise or stretching exercises.

Baker believes the social connection with the coaches helped. Each participant completed more than 100 hours of exercise.

“We wouldn’t do the exercises on our own,” says Doug Maxwell of Verona, Wisconsin, to the study with his wife.

An 81-year-old husband and wife were assigned to stretching classes. Later, they felt so good that they bought electric bikes in hopes of being more active after the study.

Baker suspects that the amount of stretching exercise can explain why even a simple stretch can improve health. profit. Participants had to exercise without social support for an additional six months. Baker has yet to examine that data.

In addition to the latest study, Baker is leading a larger study of older adults to see if adding exercise to other steps like healthy eating, brain games and social activities can reduce the risk of dementia.

I’m John Russell.

And I’m Ashley Thompson.

Laurent Neergaard reported this story to the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.

Quiz – Simple Exercise Slows Memory Loss


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These are the words in the story

aerobic – adj. strengthen the heart and lungs by working hard for a few minutes or more

gym (gymnasium) – n. a building or room for training

participant – n. a person involved in an activity or study

scan – n. The image is made by a special machine to see inside something like the human body

strategy – n. long term plan

dementia – do not. (medical) a mental illness in which someone is unable to think clearly or understand what is true and what is not

write down – v. to formally tell someone to use (a medicine, therapy, diet, etc.) as medicine or treatment

amyloid plaque – do not. misfolded proteins that occur between nerve cells

profit – do not. a good or beneficial result or effect

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