Exercise May Delay Cognitive Decline in People With Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease

For individuals carrying a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s disease, engaging in at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week may have beneficial effects on markers of Alzheimer’s disease brain changes and may delay cognitive decline, according to a study available online by Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association as an article in press.

According to the authors, the results support the benefit of physical activity on cognition and dementia progression, even in individuals with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD).

The results “show a significant relationship between physical activity, cognition, functional status and Alzheimer’s disease pathology even in individuals with genetically-driven ADAD,” wrote Christoph Laske, MD, University Hospital of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany, and colleagues. “The officially recommended physical activity duration of ≥150 minutes per week was associated with significantly better cognition and less Alzheimer’s disease pathology in ADAD. From a public health perspective, this amount of physical activity was achieved by 70% of all ADAD individuals participating at the DIAN study. Therefore, a physically active lifestyle is achievable and may play an important role in delaying the development and progression of ADAD.”

The researchers analysed data generated from 275 individuals with a mean age of 38.4 years who carry a genetic mutation for ADAD and are participating in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN), an international observational study of individuals and families with ADAD led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.

Researchers aimed to determine if at least 150 minutes of physical activity (walking, running, swimming, aerobics, etc.) per week would produce cognitive benefits for the study participants. Of the participants, 156 were classified as high physical activity individuals (>150 minutes physical activity/week) and 68 as low physical activity individuals (<150 minutes physical activity/week). Exercise intensity was not measured, but the type and frequency was corroborated by a source such as a family member or a friend.

Individuals who engaged in more physical activity scored better on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes (CDR-SOB). Similarly, individuals who exercised more had lower levels of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid, including lower tau. However, individual trajectories of cognitive changes have not been assessed in this cross-sectional study.

“A physically active lifestyle is achievable and may play an important role in delaying the development and progression of ADAD,” the authors wrote. “Individuals at genetic risk for dementia should therefore be counselled to pursue a physically active lifestyle.”

Reference: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2018.06.3059

SOURCE: Alzheimer’s Association
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