A new study from the research project ADEX at the University of Copenhagen shows that just one hour of moderate physical exercise three times a week can slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease when it is at its earliest stages, according to ScienceNordic.
“We’ve known for a long time that physical activity reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But now we also note that physical activity can actually slow development of the disease in people who have already contracted it,” says Professor Steen Hasselbalch, lead researcher on the project at the Danish Dementia Research Centre at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. “It’s really great news because we lack a decent treatment of Alzheimer’s and here it seems that exercise can contribute along with the medicine we now have available.”
The study involved 200 participants with early stage Alzheimer’s. The researchers divided the participants into two groups, one of which engaged in one hour of moderately intense exercise three times a week.
Participants who followed the researchers’ exercise program maintained their psychological well-being and their mental capabilities through four months, while the condition of the non-exercising participants gradually deteriorated, notes ScienceNordic.
The reason for the results could be that when people exercise at moderate to high intensity, the body secretes brain derived neurotrophic factor – or BDNF – that generates the production of new brain cells.
“Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disorder that causes the brain cells to die more quickly. This is probably why BDNF also helps people with Alzheimer’s, because the substance creates new brain cells,” says Hasselbalch in a ScienceNordic article. “In this way, moderate physical exercise may arrest the decrease of brain cells and with it the deterioration of brain function. So that is what we are investigating right now.”