Cardio train, stretching, motion, and cardio train all gradual cognitive decline.

“My worry at the beginning of the study was, ‘What if only aerobics makes a difference? Good luck to the majority of Americans doing it. Do aerobics on a regular basis! ‘ It’s not sustainable,” said study author Laura Baker, professor of gerontology and gerontology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by email.

“But we found that cognitive function did not decline at 12 months for either intervention groups – those who exercised aerobically or those who performed stretching, balance and strength exercises,” says Baker. micro-motion.

Rudy Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, welcomes the finding that a modest amount of exercise — 120 to 150 minutes per week for 12 months — can slow cognitive decline in humans. sedentary older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Tanzi, who was not involved in the study, examined the role of exercise in mice genetically bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease and found that exercise helps generate new neurons in the part of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease while promoting beneficial growth factors that help improve neuropathy. work.

“Typically, the benefits of interventions observed in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease do not transfer to human patients,” said Tanzi, who directs the program. at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

What is mild cognitive impairment?

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The study, presented Tuesday at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022 in San Diego, followed 296 participants who were completely sedentary at the start of the trial. All were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment – the earliest stage of the slow progression to dementia.

“People with mild cognitive impairment are not cognitively normal, but they do not have dementia,” says Baker. “They are completely capable of taking care of themselves, but what they have to go through is exhausting.

“‘I can’t remember where I am. Let me check my calendar. Oh, I forgot to write on this one. Check another calendar. Oh, I can’t find it. I lost it. Where is my phone? key? I can’t find the key. ‘

“They can regroup in the early stages and get things done,” Baker said, “but the payoffs are huge.”

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Study participants underwent cognitive testing and were then randomly divided into two groups. One group did moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike, striving toward the goal from 70% to 85% heart rate reserve: “That’s about 120 heartbeats per minute for about 30 to 40 minutes for a standard 70-year-old,” says Baker.

The other group did stretching, balance and range of motion exercises designed to allow them to move their bodies in ways that would help them navigate in real life.

“Those in the balance group said they were thrilled – they could go to the football game with their grandchildren without worrying about tripping, or they could turn their necks around while driving to see behind them, which they don’t have to worry about. haven’t been able to do it before,” Baker said.

The importance of support

Both groups exercised twice a week with a personal trainer and then another two times per week alone for the first 12 months. Combined, the groups completed more than 31,000 exercise sessions during that time, Baker said.

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At the end of 12 months, Cognitive function was not impaired in either group. That’s impressive, says Baker, because a control group of people with mild cognitive impairment — who didn’t exercise — had a decline.

Studies have shown that social support is also key to improving brain health. So it could be the result of research Is it due to an increase in social support and not due to exercise?

“Well, we don’t know for sure,” Baker said. “But there’s already enough science to show the benefits of exercise for brain health. So this isn’t something to sweep under the carpet.

“And Our recommendation would never be for people with mild cognitive impairment to do this alone,” 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. “

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