Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that leads to an impairment of memory and cognitive judgement.

 

Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwick, PymbleBalmain and Neutral Bay examine the role of exercise in the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s Disease.

AD is one of the leading causes of Dementia, accounting for between 60-80% of cases of Dementia (Cass., 2017). The underlying cause of AD is not yet fully understood, as there are various age-related changes and genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that are difficult to account for in finding the origin of the disease.

The most common symptoms are a worsening ability to remember information, severe memory loss, difficulties with problem solving, difficulty with orientation and visual and spatial relationships, mood and personality changes. However, the presentation will always differ from person to person.

 

There has been increasing evidence that exercise has a big role to play in preventing many of the risk factors that can increase the chances of being diagnosed with AD.

 

As such, Exercise Physiologists are equipped with the skills to be able to effectively tailor a program that will address the lifestyle and risk factors to reduce the chances of developing AD, or aid in significantly reducing the speed of degeneration of people already diagnosed with AD.

 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA?

Dementia is not actually considered a specific disease, but an umbrella term for symptoms that are connected to the decline in mental ability, which are severe enough to cause significant interferences with daily life (Alzheimer’s Association). There are many types of dementia, including Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Huntington’s Disease and many others. Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most common types and is one of the specific diseases that can lead to Dementia.

RISK FACTORS THAT MAY LEAD TO ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Approximately 35% of dementia cases can be attributed to a combination of 9 risk factors:

  1. Low education level
  2. Mid-life hypertension
  3. Mid-life obesity
  4. Hearing loss
  5. Later-life depression
  6. Diabetes
  7. Smoking
  8. Social isolation
  9. Low physical activity (De la Rosa et al., 2020).

Other risk factors that can be attributed to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease include age, family history, prior mild cognitive impairment (MCI), cardiovascular risk factors, education level, social and cognitive engagement, and traumatic brain injury (Cass., 2017).

 

Research studies have shown that aerobic exercise programs were able to generate improvements in executive functions, memory and cognitive tests in individuals with MCI.

(De la Rosa et al., 2020)

 

Over the years, more research is being released to support the need for non-pharmacological lifestyle interventions that will aim to reduce the risk factors that are associated with AD.

 

HOW CAN LONGEVITY EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY HELP?

A research study conducted in 2017 found that an aerobic exercise program was able to improve functional ability compared to a stretching and toning control group. The study also found that the aerobic exercise program group was able to improve their score on a scale that measured the functional independence and ability for the groups to complete activities of daily living, compared to the control group that decreased in their score (Morris et al., 2017).

Resistance exercise is also effective in promoting healthy ageing by strengthening the muscles that allow for better posture control and the reduction of falls risk. It’s also effective for stimulating greater bone density. This can be done with resistance bands, machine weights or dumbbells.

Aerobic exercise is effective in promoting greater cardiovascular health and by increasing the blood flow to the brain, increasing chemicals that protect the brain, and also counter some of the natural brain connection reductions that occurs with ageing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Exercise Physiologists at Longevity are able to effectively tailor a personalised exercise program that will be able to target risk factors that may reduce the chances of developing AD or reduce the degeneration of the condition over time. We are able to provide a safe environment that is flexible to all levels of experience with exercise. We also take into account any risk factors or comorbidities and health conditions to perform exercise safely and effectively to get the best positive outcomes.

 

If you or someone you know of could benefit from a supervised exercise program for management of Alzheimer’s Disease, call Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Pymble, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista and Neutral Bay on 1300 964 002 to enquire today.

 

Written by Kevin Shu

 

REFERENCES

Cass, S. P. (2017). Alzheimer’s disease and exercise: a literature review. Current sports medicine reports, 16(1), 19-22.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease: What is the Difference?. (2022). Retrieved 7 February 2022, from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/difference-between-dementia-and-alzheimer-s

De la Rosa, A., Olaso-Gonzalez, G., Arc-Chagnaud, C., Millan, F., Salvador-Pascual, A., García-Lucerga, C., Blasco-Lafarga, C., Garcia-Dominguez, E., Carretero, A., Correas, A. G., Vina, J., & Gomez-Cabrera, M. C. (2020). Physical exercise in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of sport and health science, 9(5), 394-404.

Morris, J. K., Vidoni, E. D., Johnson, D. K., Van Sciver, A., Mahnken, J. D., Honea, R. A., Wilkins, H. M., Brooks, W. M., Billinger, S. A., Swerdlow, R. H., & Burns, J. M. (2017). Aerobic exercise for Alzheimer’s disease: A randomized controlled pilot trial. PloS one, 12(2).