Aerobic exercise can potentially improve the cognitive health of older adults. Findings of a new study found that this type of physical activity can delay and improve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which mostly affects members of the older population.
Alzheimer's Disease is a neurological condition that gradually destroys an individual's memory and thinking skills. It currently affects about 5.3 million Americans and is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Also, the number of individuals who will develop the condition is expected to rise to more than thrice the current number by 2050.
No cure is currently available for Alzheimer's disease but there are lifestyle practices that may help delay or alleviate the symptoms of the condition.
Health experts suggest physical exercise to improve the brain health of older people who are at greater risk of Alzheimer's. The World Health Organization even recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, 75 minutes of aerobic training, or a combination of these exercises.
Now, a new study offers hints of the type of exercise that is most beneficial for the brain health of older adults.
Gregory Panza from the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and his colleagues looked at 19 earlier studies that examined the effects of an exercise training program on the cognitive functions of more than 1,100 older adults who were either diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or were at risk of the condition.
The researchers found that those who engaged in aerobics alone had three times the level of cognitive improvements of those who participated in combined strength training exercise and aerobic training. Those who did not exercise at all experienced declines in cognitive action while those who exercised had small improvements in cognitive function regardless of the type of exercise they engaged in.
Best Exercise For Brain Health
The findings of the study showed that aerobic exercise is more effective than other types of exercise in helping preserve older adults' ability to think and make decisions.
"Our meta-analysis is the first to suggest that aerobic exercise may be more effective than other types of exercise in preserving the cognitive health of older adults at risk of or who have AD," researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"The current findings can serve as a framework for design of future studies examining the effects of exercise interventions on cognitive function in this population."