Alzheimer's disease -- a chronic form of dementia, which results in severe memory loss and eventually death -- is a progressive disorder for which there are minimal therapeutics that affect the underlying disease mechanism.
However, epidemiological studies have suggested lifestyle changes may slow down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's ... specifically, regular exercise.
According to researchers, a regular exercise program can slow the development of Alzheimer's by altering the way damaging proteins reside in the brain. Studies on mice helped support a growing body of evidence that keeping busy (both physically and mentally), as well as eating certain foods, can delay or prevent Alzheimer's.
Scientists analyzed the effect of excess clogging due to plaque buildup in the brain -- the signature physical sign of Alzheimer's -- after three months on genetically engineered mice. Half the mice were put in cages with running wheels, while the other half were cooped up with no outlet or exercise wheels.
Mice allowed to exercise learned to navigate a water maze faster than mice that were kept cooped up.
Significantly fewer plaques and fewer bits of beta-amyloid peptides, associated with Alzheimer's, were found in mice that exercised.
Findings suggest a simple behavioral strategy such as exercise, dancing or even walking can trigger a change (as seen in the mice) in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's.
Journal of Neuroscience April 27, 2005;25:4217-4221
Reuters April 27, 2005