Authors: Alice Weatherston
Further research presented at the 8th International Conference on Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s Disease (5–7 November 2015, Barcelona, Spain) has indicated that aerobic exercise may aid in reducing markers of neurodegeneration and improving brain function in older individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The results highlight the potential for aerobic exercise as a disease-modifying therapeutic intervention for at risk individuals.
Principal investigator, Laura Baker (Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, NC, USA), and her team analyzed beta amyloid and tau levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals aged 55–89 with mild cognitive impairment and prediabetes. All study participants were assigned to one of two exercise programs, either moderate-to-high intensity aerobics or stretching for 45–60 minutes, four times per week, for six months, under the supervision of a trainer. At the beginning and the end of the study cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples were collected and participants completed assessments of cognition, how long it took to walk 400 meters, body fat and glucose tolerance. Forty participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans.
The aerobic exercise group exhibited higher cognitive scores, faster walk times, and improved glucose tolerance. Beneficial effects on beta amyloid and tau were also seen in addition to improvements in resting blood flow.
The brain imaging team are now analyzing the data to identify any alterations in communication patterns between brain cells in response to exercise and also intend on extending the program for a further 18 months. After 12 months of supervised exercise participants will then experience an unsupervised period which will be utilized in order to test the sustainability of the intervention.