At a major Alzheimer’s disease conference in Vancouver last weekend, there were four studies unveiled that basically came to the same conclusion: That exercise can lessen the risk and slow the progression of dementia.
There have been dozens of stories written about the various studies, but the best summary that I read was on the website HealthFactsAndFears.com.
The website noted that past studies have shown that exercise can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The difference with the new studies is that they indicate that less rigorous exercise, even weight-lifting, can be as effective or better in warding off Alzheimer’s as more aerobic activity, such as walking.
One study, done by the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, compared the impact of weight-training twice a week with walking twice a week and balance exercise in women 70 to 80 who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, according to HealthFactsAndFears.com.
As it turned out, the women who did the weight-training scored much better on memory tests than they had before the test. In fact, they did better than the women in the two other groups.
Another study also found that resistance training in a group of women 65 to 75 led to the group doing better on memory tests.
A third study was presented that found that once-sedentary elderly who took up moderate-intensity walking, versus stretching, “were more likely to show improvement on both cognitive tests and biological measurements associated with neural growth and memory,” according to the website.
At the conference there were also several studies regarding the link between an elderly person’s gait and his or her cognitive functions. The research found that even small abnormalities in walking can be a tip-off that a person has early stage Alzheimer’s, long before mental impairment is detected by neuropsychological tests, according to HealthFactsAndFears.com.