“My concern at the start of the study was, ‘What if aerobic exercise is the only one that makes a difference? Good luck getting the majority of Americans to do that Exercise on a regular basis! “It’s not sustainable,” said the study’s author. Laura Baker, MD, professor of gerontology and geriatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, via email.
“But we found that cognitive function did not decline over 12 months for either of the intervention groups – people who did aerobic exercise or people who did stretching, balance and range of motion,” Becker said.
Rudi Tanzi, MD, professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School in Boston, welcomed the findings that a modest amount of exercise — 120 to 150 minutes per week for 12 months — may slow cognitive decline in sedentary older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
tanziAnd the Those not involved in the study examined the role of exercise in mice genetically bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease and found that exercise stimulates the birth of new neurons in the most affected section of Alzheimer’s while promoting beneficial growth factors that improve the nervous system. Activity.
“Often, the benefits of interventions observed in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease do not translate to human patients. It is good to see that in this new study, the benefits of exercise probably translate from mice to humans,” said Tanzi, who directs the research team. . Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
What is mild cognitive decline?
“Individuals with mild cognitive impairment are not cognitively normal, but they do not have dementia,” Becker said. “They are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but what they have to do to do that is exhausting.
“I don’t remember where I’m supposed to be. Let me check my calendar. Oh, I forgot to write in this calendar. Let’s check another calendar. Oh, I can’t find this calendar. Where is my phone? the key? I can’t find the key.
“They are able to regroup in the early stages and get things done, but the losses are massive,” Becker said.
The other group did stretching, balance, and range of motion exercises designed to allow them to move their bodies in ways that help them navigate in real life.
“People in the range of motion range balance said they were happy — they could go to soccer games with the grandchildren without worrying about tripping, or they could drive and turn their necks to see the back, which they couldn’t,” Becker said.
The importance 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. Combined, Baker said, the groups completed more than 31,000 exercise sessions during that time.
At the end of the 12 months, Cognitive function was not decreased in either group. This is impressive, Becker said, because a control group of equally matched people with mild cognitive impairment — and those who had not exercised — regressed.
Studies have shown that social support is also key to improving brain health. Is it possible for the results of the study? Was it due to increased social support and not exercise?
“Well, we don’t know for sure,” Becker said. “But there is enough science to show that exercise benefits brain health alone. So this cannot be ignored.
“And the “It would never be our recommendation for people with mild cognitive impairment to do this on their own,” she added. “They will need support. So exercise alone is not a prescription. Exercise with support is a prescription, and that would be our recommendation.”