WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- A study showed that exercising several times a week may delay brain deterioration in people at high risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern found that people who had an accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, experienced a slower degeneration in a region of the brain crucial for memory if they exercised regularly for one year.
The study published on Tuesday in the journal Alzheimer's Disease suggested a possibility that aerobic workouts can at least slow down the effects of the disease if intervention occurs in early stages, although it could not prevent the eventual spread of toxic amyloid plaques.
During the clinical trial that included 70 participants aged 55 and above, the researchers compared cognitive function and brain volume between two groups of sedentary older adults with memory issues. One group did aerobic exercise, at least a half-hour workout four to five times weekly, and another group did only flexibility training.
Both groups maintained similar cognitive abilities during the trial in areas such as memory and problem-solving.
But brain imaging showed that people from the exercise group who had amyloid buildup experienced slightly less volume reduction in their hippocampus, a memory-related brain region that progressively deteriorates as dementia takes hold, according to the study.
More research is needed to determine how or if the reduced atrophy rate benefits cognition, according to the researchers.