Disease Management

Does Physical Activity Prevent Alzheimers Disease?

Dr. Izzeldin EL Jack/ Head of Community Health Section
27 December, 2016

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Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder in older people that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities.  It is one of the most common forms of dementia. The disease usually begins after the age of sixty and the risk increases as a person ages or if a family member has previously had this disease.

Alzheimer's disease begins slowly by involving the brain area that controls thought, memory and language. Therefore, individuals with the disease may have problems in remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. Studies showed the increasing prevalence of the disease in recent years and its association with lifestyle.

No treatment can prevent or stop the disease. However, some drugs may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited period of time. Scientific evidence shows that individuals who adopt a healthy lifestyle, especially from mid-life onwards, are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. This means taking regular physical exercise and keeping up a healthy weight, not smoking, and eating a healthy balanced diet.

Physical activity seems to help the brain not only by keeping a good blood flow but also by increasing chemicals that protect the brain. In addition, physical activity tends to counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occurs with aging. Exercise and other forms of physical activity may help keep the brain active among those who have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The finding of an inspiring new study suggests that even moderate dose of exercise or physical activity may help slow the progression of one of the most dreaded diseases of aging.

1. Regular Exercise for 30 minutes five days a week may:

  • Protect intellectual and learning skills for healthy individuals
  • Improve memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) for people with mild Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment
  • Delay the start of Alzheimer's for people at risk of developing the disease or slow the progress of the diseas

2. Three types of exercise should be included as routine:

  • Sustained aerobic exercise
  • Strength, weight or resistance training
  • Flexibility and balance training

​3. Many research and studies are being conducted to find out to what degree adding physical activity and exercise improves memory or slows the progression of cognitive decline. Nonetheless, regular exercise and physical activity is important to stay physically and mentally fit.



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