Summary: Embarking on a six-month aerobic exercise regime may help slow cognitive decline for older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Source: IOS Press
Promising new research shows aerobic exercise may help slow memory loss for older adults living with Alzheimer’s dementia.
ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation Professor Fang Yu led a pilot randomized control trial that included 96 older adults living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia.
Participants were randomized to either a cycling (stationary bike) or stretching intervention for six months. Using the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognition (ADAS-Cog) to assess cognition, the results of the trial were substantial.
The six-month change in ADAS-Cog was 1.0±4.6 (cycling) and 0.1±4.1 (stretching), which were both significantly less than the expected 3.2±6.3-point increase observed naturally with disease progression.
“Our primary finding indicates that a six-month aerobic exercise intervention significantly reduced cognitive decline in comparison to the natural course of changes for Alzheimer’s dementia. However, we didn’t find a superior effect of aerobic exercise to stretching, which is likely due to the pilot nature of our trial. We don’t have the statistical power to detect between-group differences, there was substantial social interaction effect in the stretching group, and many stretching participants did aerobic exercise on their own.” Yu said.
The findings are described in a recently published article, Cognitive Effects of Aerobic Exercise in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Yu says their results are encouraging and support the clinical relevance of promoting aerobic exercise in individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia to maintain cognition.
“Aerobic exercise has a low profile of adverse events in older adults with Alzheimer’s dementia as demonstrated by our trial,” said Yu. “Regardless of its effect on cognition, the current collective evidence on its benefits supports the use of aerobic exercise as an additional therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”
About this exercise and Alzheimer’s disease research news
Source: IOS Press Contact: Diana Murray – IOS Press Image: The image is in the public domain
Cognitive Effects of Aerobic Exercise in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
Aerobic exercise has shown inconsistent cognitive effects in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia.
To examine the immediate and longitudinal effects of 6-month cycling on cognition in older adults with AD dementia.
This randomized controlled trial randomized 96 participants (64 to cycling and 32 to stretching for six months) and followed them for another six months. The intervention was supervised, moderate-intensity cycling for 20–50 minutes, 3 times a week for six months. The control was light-intensity stretching. Cognition was assessed at baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months using the AD Assessment Scale-Cognition (ADAS-Cog). Discrete cognitive domains were measured using the AD Uniform Data Set battery.
The participants were 77.4±6.8 years old with 15.6±2.9 years of education, and 55%were male. The 6-month change in ADAS-Cog was 1.0±4.6 (cycling) and 0.1±4.1 (stretching), which were both significantly less than the natural 3.2±6.3-point increase observed naturally with disease progression. The 12-month change was 2.4±5.2 (cycling) and 2.2±5.7 (control). ADAS-Cog did not differ between groups at 6 (p = 0.386) and 12 months (p = 0.856). There were no differences in the 12-month rate of change in ADAS-Cog (0.192 versus 0.197, p = 0.967), memory (–0.012 versus –0.019, p = 0.373), executive function (–0.020 versus –0.012, p = 0.383), attention (–0.035 versus –0.033, p = 0.908), or language (–0.028 versus –0.026, p = 0.756).
Exercise may reduce decline in global cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate AD dementia. Aerobic exercise did not show superior cognitive effects to stretching in our pilot trial, possibly due to the lack of power.