“My first concern at the beginning of this study was , ‘What do you think if aerobic only can make a difference? It’s a challenge to get all Americans to engage in exerciseaerobic exercises frequently for a long time!’ It’s not long-term,” said study author HTML0Laura Baker, who is a professor of geriatric medicine and gerontology in the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, via email.
“But we discovered that the cognitive function did not decrease over the course of 12 month in either of the intervention groups — those who exercised aerobically, as well as those who practiced stretching, balance , and range of motion,” Baker said.
Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston was pleased with the results that a moderate quantity of physical activity — between 120 to 150 minutes per week over 12 months — could reduce cognitive decline for older adults who have sedentary lifestyles and moderate cognitive impairment.

Tanzi ,who was not a participant in the study she has studied the effects of exercise in rodents genetically breeding to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They found that exercise triggers the creation of neurons within the area of the brain that is most affected by Alzheimer’s disease, while increasing growth factors that boost the activity of neurons.
“So oft, advantages of the interventions that are that are observed in Alzheimer’s mouse models don’t translate to patients in the human body. It’s great to see that in this study, the advantages of exercise might translate from mice to humans,” said Tanzi, who heads the research on aging and genetics department within Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

What is mild cognitive decline?

The study, which was presented on on Tuesday, at 2022’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego, followed 296 subjects who were completely inactive at the start of the study. They all had been identified as having mild cognitive impairmentthe first stage of the gradual progression into dementia.
“Individuals with mild cognitive impairments aren’t mentally normal but they aren’t suffering from Alzheimer’s disease,” Baker said. “They’re perfectly capable of looking after their own needs, but the process they must go through to accomplish this is exhausting.
“‘I cannot think of where my next destination is supposed be. I’ll check my calendar. Oh, I didn’t note this calendar. Let’s look for another calendar. Oh, I’m unable to locate the calendar. I’ve lost my phone. What is thethe key? I’m unable to locate it.’
“They’re capable of reuniting in the beginning and get things done,” Baker said, “but the cost is enormous.”

The participants took cognitive tests and were divided to two different groups. One group was able to do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on stationary bikes or treadmills with a goal of anof 70%-85 percent of reserve heart rate: “That’s about 120 heartbeats per minute over 30-40 minutes for a 70-year old who is a normal age,” Baker said.
The second group engaged in stretching and balance, as well as exercise in the range of motion to help them move their bodies in ways that could aid them in their daily situations.
“Folks who belong to the balance-range motion group were delighted that they could attend soccer games with their grandchildren without having to worry about falling, or could drive while turning their necks to look back of the car, something they’d never been able to do prior to this,” Baker said.

Support is crucial.

The two groups worked out twice a weekly with an individual trainer , and the other two times per week on their own during the initial twelve months. The two groups combined had more than 31,000 fitness sessions over the course of the period, Baker said.

After twelve-month period, cognitive function did not decline in either of the groups. This is impressive, Baker said, because an uncontrolled group of as matched individuals suffering from mild cognitive impairmentwho exercised but did not had a decline.
Studies have proven that social support is important to improve the health of your brain. It is therefore possible that these results that resulted from the studywere result of the increase in social support and not exercise?
“Well we don’t know for certain,” Baker said. “But there’s plenty of research that shows the positive effects of exercising in terms of brain health. This isn’t something to be swept under the rug.
“And our recommendation not to those who have a mild cognitive impairment to handle this task on their own,” she added. “They will require help. Therefore, exercise on its own isn’t an effective treatment. Exercise and support for exercise is a prescription and it will be our suggestion.”