The Secret Behind How Exercise Fights Alzheimer's

Four years ago, I posted what appeared to be one of the first studies to demonstrate the beneficial effects of exercise on fighting, if not preventing, Alzheimer's disease. But little was known about exactly how exercise did the trick, until now.

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine discovered a regular exercise program can slow the development of Alzheimer's disease by altering the way damaging proteins reside in the brain. Scientists studied the effect of excess clogging due to plaque buildup in the brain -- the signature physical sign of Alzheimer's -- after three months on genetically engineered mice.

Half of the mice tested by researchers were put in cages with running wheels and the remainder had no outlet for exercise. By all appearances, exercise was the deciding factor:

  • Mice in the exercise group learned to navigate a water maze more quickly than those without an outlet.
  • The exercisers also had significantly fewer plaques and fewer bits of beta-amyloid peptides, physical signs also associated with Alzheimer's.

Just think: If a simple treatment can change the way the amyloid precursor protein that triggers Alzheimer's is metabolized in mice, think about what it can do for you. Aside from making the decision to get moving, you'll need a strategy to get started. Fortunately, I've devoted countless pages on my Web site to show you how to do just that.

If you're looking for more detailed instruction on exercise, I urge you to review some of the latest columns written by Paul Chek and Ben Lerner, two of this site's most popular contributing editors and world renowned experts in the field.

Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 25, April 27, 2005: 4217-4221

Yahoo News April 27, 2005

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