Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that, until recently, has had very few treatment options, most of which do not generally target the underlying causes of the disease.  However, throughout the past decade, several case studies have revealed a possible treatment that is thought to slow the cause of this degenerative disorder: exercise.  In one circumstance, published in The Journal of Neuroscience (The Journal of Neuroscience, 27 April 2005, 25(17): 4217-4221; doi: 10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.0496-05.2005), after five months of exercise, amounts of extracellular amyloid-β plaque in the brain (specifically in the frontal cortex and the hippocampus) are decreased substantially in mice.  This change is believed to be brought about by neuronal metabolic alterations that affect the processing of the amyloid precursor protein which is believed to be responsible for the production of the amyloid- β plaque that, in Alzheimer’s patients, builds up in the brain, causing cognitive degradation. 

            At the University of Washington in Seattle, researchers have taken this theory from mice to human patients in an extensive study on the effects of exercise on Alzheimer’s disease and have contracted similar results.  According to Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, “…the challenge now, is to understand, at a scientific level, what elements really do enhance brain function, and what level, what dose of activity is needed.” According to the studies at the University of Washington, not just any exercise will do; 23 of the 33 volunteers, who were involved in an intense aerobic program, showed increase in cognitive abilities while the remaining 10, involved in non-aerobic stretching and balance exercises, continued to demonstrate the degrading symptoms of Alzheimer’s. 

            While the research and knowledge of the true effects of exercise on Alzheimer’s patients is still relatively young, there is a universal encouragement from the scientific community for those affected by Alzheimer’s to remain physically active for the better of their condition.  As research pertaining to this phenomenon continues to expand and develop and more is understood about the biological factors involved, there is a great potential for a treatment, possibly even a cure, of Alzheimer’s disease to be developed utilizing the methods of one of the most primitive of human activities: exercise.


Article by Roskamp Institute Inter Alec Waid.

To learn about Dr. Michael Mullan's research at the Roskamp Institute please visit:

http://www.rfdn.org
http://www.roskampinstitute.us
http://www.michaelmullan.us
http://www,micahelmullangroup.com
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