Dementia Risk: The Exercise That Cuts it All Out

The amount of steps that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Doing 8,900 steps a day affords the greatest protection against developing Alzheimer’s disease, later on, new research finds.

Higher levels of daily activity are well-known to protect against devastating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Exercise has now been shown to improve cognitive performance and slow the rate of brain tissue loss.

More activity preserves gray matter structures in the brain and may reduce the growth of amyloid proteins that are linked to Alzheimer’s.

The study is one of the first to show the benefits to older people who have not yet developed the disease.

Dr. Jasmeer Chhatwal, study co-author, said:

”One of the most striking findings from our study was that greater physical activity not only appeared to have positive effects on slowing cognitive decline, but also on slowing the rate of brain tissue loss over time in normal people who had high levels of amyloid plaque in the brain.”

The research included 182 older adults who were at higher risk of cognitive decline but who had not yet developed any symptoms.

They were given hip-mounted pedometers to measure their physical activity.

Dr. Reisa Sperling, the study’s first author, explained the results:

“Beneficial effects were seen at even modest levels of physical activity, but were most prominent at around 8,900 steps, which is only slightly less than the 10,000 many of us strive to achieve daily.”

Alzheimer’s is linked to a build-up of amyloid proteins in the brain, explained Dr. Chhatwal:

“Beta amyloid and tau protein build-up certainly set the stage for cognitive impairment in later age, but we shouldn’t forget that there are steps we can take now to reduce the risk going forward — even in people with build-up of these proteins.

Alzheimer’s disease and the emergence of cognitive decline is multifactorial and demands a multifactorial approach if we hope to change its trajectory.”

Author: Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog.