Another study has linked exercise to cognitive health, but this time it was shown to reverse cognitive decline! In this new study, researchers recruited adults aged 60 to 88 years who reported that they engaged in fewer than 3 days of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. 17 of them had mild cognitive impairment (MCI, the precursor to Alzheimer's disease), and 18 were normal age-matched control participants.
The exercise component of the study consisted of 44 sessions of
treadmill walking that were supervised by a qualified personal fitness
trainer during a period of 12 weeks.The exercise intensity, session duration, and weekly frequency were
gradually increased during the first 4 weeks until the participants were
walking 30 minutes per session 4 times a week at an intensity of
approximately 50% to 60% of heart rate reserve during weeks 5 to 12.
Walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day 4 days a week over a
12-week period improved memory scores and neural efficiency in older
people with MCI. The finding suggests that exercise may not only protect against or delay conversion to Alzheimer's disease (which has been seen previously in other studies), but may actually reverse it!
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Source: Semantic Memory Functional MRI and Cognitive Function after Exercise Intervention in Mild Cognitive Impairment