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Article

The Impact of Exercise on Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Monday, July 26th 2021 10:00am 5 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

In 2015, the World Health Organization identified dementia as a “global public health priority” because 1 new case is diagnosed every 4 seconds globally. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias is approximately 47 million, and this number is expected to grow to 75 million by 2030.

No cure has been developed for dementia. However, lifestyle strategies targeting known risk factors for cognitive impairment may help delay the progressive disease. These lifestyle strategies center on diet, exercise, and social activities.

Patients with cognitive impairment frequently have poor physical function and muscle strength. Aging and dementia increase the risk of falls, fall-related fractures, and other comorbidities. Evidence supports the higher risk of falls in patients in even the early stages of dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). A normal gait depends on the biomechanical structure and appropriate timing of muscle action, normal vision, sensory ability, vestibular system, and proprioception. The deterioration of these in patients with dementia leads to an increased risk of falls and injuries.

Some exercises can help in slowing the loss of physical function, which in turn mitigates the risk of falls or injuries. Cognitive function in elderly adults can range from normal to complete dementia. The effect of exercise also falls along a wide range of outcomes. Intensive, dementia-adjusted training is possible and improves the gait in patients with dementia.

Even while evidence grows that exercise and mental activities can improve cognitive function, one randomized controlled trial with moderate- to high-intensity exercise training for patients with dementia did not produce those results. Still, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends exercise to improve the functional independence and quality of life in the elderly.

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