Promising new research shows aerobic exercise may help slow memory loss for older adults living with Alzheimer’s dementia.
The study under the leadership of Professor Fang Yu of ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation in Arizona, USA, was of 96 older adults living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia.
For 6 months the participants were encouraged and supported to use either a cycling (stationary bike) or stretching exercises.
Professor Yu explained:
“Our primary finding indicates that a six-month aerobic exercise intervention significantly reduced cognitive decline in comparison to the natural course of changes for Alzheimer’s dementia.
“However, we didn’t find a superior effect of aerobic exercise to stretching, which is likely due to the pilot nature of our trial.
“We don’t have the statistical power to detect between-group differences, there was substantial social interaction effect in the stretching group, and many stretching participants did aerobic exercise on their own.
“Aerobic exercise has a low profile of adverse events in older adults with Alzheimer’s dementia as demonstrated by our trial.
“Regardless of its effect on cognition, the current collective evidence on its benefits supports the use of aerobic exercise as an additional therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”
The findings are described in a recently published article, Cognitive Effects of Aerobic Exercise in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Yu says their results are encouraging and support the clinical relevance of promoting aerobic exercise in individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia to maintain cognition.