A review of 19 studies that examined the effect of exercise on cognitive function has concluded that it does lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The studies included 1,145 older adults, most of whom were in their mid-to late 70s. Of the participants, 65 per cent were at risk for Alzheimer’s and 35 per cent had been diagnosed.
The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Older adults who did aerobic exercise by itself experienced a three times greater level of improvement in cognitive function than those who participated in combined aerobic training and strength training exercises.
Those in the no-exercise control groups in the studies faced declines in cognitive function. Meanwhile, the older adults who exercised showed small improvements in cognitive function no matter what type of exercise they did.
The research team concluded that this study may be the first to show that for older adults who are at risk for (or who have Alzheimer’s) aerobic exercise may be more effective than other types in preserving the ability to think and make decisions.