dementiaA new study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Health Services suggests that exercise might help to provide future protection from Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, it might help Alzheimers care specialists to keep people healthy.

Led by Nathan Johnson PT, DPT, Ph.D. with a group of researchers, the study successfully demonstrated the positive correlation between fitness and blood flow to certain areas of the brain where Alzheimer’s disease is usually first detected.

Alzheimer’s is a very serious form of dementia, experienced by more than three-fourths of individuals at assisted living facilities. Additionally, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of death in the United States, with one in three seniors passing away from some form of dementia.

With further investigation, the study could prove to be crucial in the quest for preventing and slowing diagnoses and symptoms of Alzheimers, helping elder care services and health professionals to better understand the form of dementia..

The study involved 30 men and women between the ages of 59 and 69. When tested, the participants were put through treadmill fitness assessments and ultrasounds of the heart. Then, the researchers gave the participants brain scans in order to investigate blood flow to specific areas of the brain.

“We set out to characterize the relationship between heart function, fitness, and cerebral blood flow, which no other study had explored to date,” Johnson said. “In other words, if you’re in good physical shape, does that improve blood flow to critical areas of the brain? And does that improved blood flow provide some form of protection from dementia?”

Ultimately, the study showed that blood flow to critical areas of the brain were significantly higher for those who were physically fit.
This means that regular exercise at any age can help to continually deliver oxygen to the brain, keeping the mind young.

“Can we prove irrefutably that increased fitness will prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Not at this point,” Johnson said. “But this is an important first step towards demonstrating that being physically active improves blood flow to the brain and confers some protection from dementia, and conversely that people who live sedentary lifestyles, especially those who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, might be more susceptible.”