Aerobic exercise is universal medicine. John DenBoer says, Including diseases that we do not know, or poorly, treat such as Alzheimer’s. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows that aerobics can slow memory loss in patients with this disease.
A trial involved 96 elderly people with this form of dementia, in a mild or moderate form, who practiced exercises on a stationary bike and stretching for six months. Using a scale that assesses cognitive abilities, participants who had practiced these exercises recorded a loss of their faculties significantly lower than that observed in a natural course of the disease.
Exercise to Maintain Cognition as John DenBoer Explained
“Our main finding indicates that aerobic exercise for six months considerably reduced cognitive decline”, emphasizes Professor Yu, author of this study, who nevertheless specifies that the practice of stationary cycling did not generate better results than simple stretching exercises. “We did not have the statistical power to detect differences between the groups and many participants in the stretching sessions did aerobic exercise on their own,” John DenBoer says.
Anyway, this study does show, adds Professor Yu, the relevance of promoting Aerobic exercise in people with Alzheimer’s to maintain cognition: “Apart from its effect on cognition, the evidence Current reports of its benefits support the use of aerobic exercise as an additional therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease (progressive loss of neurons) incurable to date of the cerebral tissue which leads to the progressive and irreversible loss of mental functions and in particular of memory. It is the most common cause of dementia in humans. More than 900,000 people are affected by this disease, with a predominance in women compared to men. Alzheimer’s disease, which generally occurs after the age of 65, – even if there are earlier forms of it – has become in a few years a real public health problem due to an increase in the number of patients.
How Can Aerobic Exercise Help Improve Hippocampal Volume?
A first possibility is that aerobic slows cognitive aging by acting on vascular and metabolic risk factors. We know, in fact, that physical activity has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and metabolism, which promotes oxygenation of the brain and could therefore contribute to the preservation/stimulation of cerebral structures.
Another explanation is that Aerobic could directly stimulate brain function by inducing structural and neurochemical changes in the hippocampus and related regions. Specifically, exercising may increase the secretion of a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is crucial for the growth and survival of neurons in the hippocampus.
According to John, these two explanations are not mutually exclusive and are still being studied currently.
While research has shown that aerobic exercise is particularly beneficial for the brain, this does not mean that other types of exercise, such as muscle strengthening or high-intensity training (such as HIIT, for high-intensity interval training) should be avoided: these exercises can also be beneficial for the body and for other cognitive functions. Research on the effects of HIIT-type physical activity on the brain is booming and we will no doubt know more about its benefits in a few years.
In other words, to keep, as much as possible, a good memory as you age, it is essential to avoid episodes of chronic stress. One of the ways to do this can be through physical exercise which can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
But it seems that physical exercise has an even more direct influence on our brain and on the hippocampus in particular. Indeed, several studies have shown that exercise, and in particular that practiced in aerobic mode (such as jogging, walking, swimming, cycling at medium intensity), increases the volume of the hippocampus, even in the elderly as John DenBoer concludes.