Study findings revealed a beneficial effect of physical activity on cognition and Alzheimer’s disease pathology in people with genetically driven autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease.
“Previous reports suggest that physical activity has beneficial effects on cognitive function in healthy elderly people, individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s disease (ie, individuals with mild cognitive impairment), and in persons with dementia,” Stephan Müller, PhD, from the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and department of psychiatry and psychotherapy, University of Tübingen, Germany, and colleagues wrote.
WHO and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week for people with mild cognitive impairment given evidence supporting its beneficial effects on cognitive function and cognitive decline, according to the researchers.
In this study, researchers examined whether physical activity would have beneficial effects on global cognition, cognitive decline, functional status and dementia biomarkers in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with genetically driven early-onset autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease. They evaluated 372 at-risk individuals participating in the longitudinal observational Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network study, who underwent clinical, neuropsychological, imaging, blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarker analyses.
Study findings showed a beneficial effect of physical activity on cognition and Alzheimer’s disease pathology in people with genetically driven autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinical assessment of cognitive and functional performance was measured via the Clinical Dementia Rating scale and estimated years to symptom onset were calculated as the age of the participants at baseline minus age of their first-degree relative at symptom onset. Using questionnaire data corroborated by their collateral source, participants reported average time spent partaking in 10 activities, including walking, running, cycling, swimming, tennis, aerobics or weight training, over the past 12 months.
Based on WHO recommendations, mutation carriers reporting less than 150 minutes of physical activity per week were categorized into a low exercise group (n = 68), and those reporting 150 minutes or more were categorized into a high exercise group (n =156).
The results demonstrated that mutation carriers with high physical activity showed significantly better cognitive and functional performance and significantly less Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology in cerebrospinal fluid than those with low activity, even after controlling for age. At expected symptom onset, mutation carriers with high physical activity scored 3.4 points better on global cognition scores, had a 1.3-points lower functional status score, and received the diagnosis of very mild dementia 15.1 years later than mutation carriers with low activity, according to the results.
“The officially recommended [physical activity] duration of [150 minutes or more] per week was associated with significantly better cognition and less [disease] pathology in [autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease],” Müller and colleagues wrote.
“From a public health perspective, this amount of [physical activity] was achieved by 70% of all [autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease] individuals participating in the ... study. Therefore, a physically active lifestyle is achievable and may play an important role in delaying the development and progression of [autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease],” they continued. “Individuals at genetic risk for dementia should therefore be counseled to pursue a physically active lifestyle.” – by Savannah Demko
Disclosure: Müller reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.