Summary: Another new study finds those who exercise have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The evidence is clear. Physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, says a panel of researchers and not-for-profit leaders, led by UBC’s Okanagan campus.
The researchers also confirmed that regular physical activity may improve the performance of daily activities for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Their conclusions may have significant implications for the 1.1 million Canadians affected directly or indirectly by dementia.
“As there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s, there is an urgent need for interventions to reduce the risk of developing it and to help manage the symptoms,” says study first author Kathleen Martin Ginis, professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. “After evaluating all the research available, our panel agrees that physical activity is a practical, economical and accessible intervention for both the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
Martin Ginis and her cohort reviewed data from more than 150 research articles about the impact of physical activity on people with Alzheimer’s. Some of the work explored how physical activity improves the patient’s quality of life and the others examined the risk of developing Alzheimer’s based on the amount of activity in which an individual participated.
The panel concluded that regular physical activity improves activities of daily living and mobility in in older adults with Alzheimer’s and may improve general cognition and balance. They also established that older adults not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who are physically active, were significantly less likely to develop the disease compared to people who were inactive.
“This is exciting work,” says Martin Ginis. “From here we were able to prepare a consensus statement and messaging which not only has community backing, but is also evidence-based. Now we have the tool to promote the protective benefit of physical activity to older adults. I’m hopeful this will move the needle on this major health concern.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, characterized by progressive neurodegeneration that results in severe cognitive impairment, compromised physical ability and loss of independence. The number of worldwide cases is expected to increase from 30.8 million in 2010 to more than 106 million in 2050.
Funding: The study, published in BMC Public Health, was supported by funding from the Ontario Brain Institute and the Alzheimer Society.
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Original Research: Full open access research for “Formulation of evidence-based messages to promote the use of physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease” by Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Jennifer Heisz, John C. Spence, Ilana B. Clark, Jordan Antflick, Chris I. Ardern, Christa Costas-Bradstreet, Mary Duggan, Audrey L. Hicks, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, Laura Middleton, Kirk Nylen, Donald H. Paterson, Chelsea Pelletier and Michael A. Rotondi in BMC Public Health. Published online February 17 2017 doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4090-5
Formulation of evidence-based messages to promote the use of physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease
The impending public health impact of Alzheimer’s disease is tremendous. Physical activity is a promising intervention for preventing and managing Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is a lack of evidence-based public health messaging to support this position. This paper describes the application of the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation II (AGREE-II) principles to formulate an evidence-based message to promote physical activity for the purposes of preventing and managing Alzheimer’s disease.
A messaging statement was developed using the AGREE-II instrument as guidance. Methods included (a) conducting a systematic review of reviews summarizing research on physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease, and (b) engaging stakeholders to deliberate the evidence and formulate the messaging statement.
The evidence base consisted of seven systematic reviews focused on Alzheimer’s disease prevention and 20 reviews focused on symptom management. Virtually all of the reviews of symptom management conflated patients with Alzheimer’s disease and patients with other dementias, and this limitation was reflected in the second part of the messaging statement. After deliberating the evidence base, an expert panel achieved consensus on the following statement: “Regular participation in physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Among older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, regular physical activity can improve performance of activities of daily living and mobility, and may improve general cognition and balance.” The statement was rated favourably by a sample of older adults and physicians who treat Alzheimer’s disease patients in terms of its appropriateness, utility, and clarity.
Public health and other organizations that promote physical activity, health and well-being to older adults are encouraged to use the evidence-based statement in their programs and resources. Researchers, clinicians, people with Alzheimer’s disease and caregivers are encouraged to adopt the messaging statement and the recommendations in the companion informational resource.
“Formulation of evidence-based messages to promote the use of physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease” by Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Jennifer Heisz, John C. Spence, Ilana B. Clark, Jordan Antflick, Chris I. Ardern, Christa Costas-Bradstreet, Mary Duggan, Audrey L. Hicks, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, Laura Middleton, Kirk Nylen, Donald H. Paterson, Chelsea Pelletier and Michael A. Rotondi in BMC Public Health. Published online February 17 2017 doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4090-5