It’s common knowledge that exercise can help improve many aspects of a person’s health, including increased strength and bone density, protecting against cardiovascular disease and improved coordination and flexibility. Now a new study has shed light on how exercise can help turn back the cognitive clock by improving memory functions and aiding in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

With increases in life expectancy occurring around the world, understanding chronic disorders that impair quality of life, like Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which strike in our later years have drawn increasing focus. Recent research has linked exercise to improvements in brain health, specifically neural functions associated with the hippocampus and amygdala – two regions of the brain which typically accrue neurodegeneration due to the onset of AD. The study found that over the course of several weeks of regular exercise, improvements to memory were noted, including increased synaptic flexibility and spatial recall.

Combined exercises such as aerobic exercises, strength exercises, and balance and coordination exercises… along with cognitive and social activities, provide important benefits for people with AD-induced dementia.

Hamed Alizadeh Pahlavani, author of the study

Whilst these findings spark hope, the scientific community is yet to form a consensus on precisely which method of exercise training if best to combat AD. That said, there are some early signs that could help point us in the right direction.

Aerobic activities, like walking, are linked to improved cognitive functioning for people with AD. Exercises and activities that are focused on balance and coordination could also help those with AD by decreasing the likelihood of falls that may otherwise be detrimental to one’s health and further complicate the condition. Likewise, resistance training, which primarily assist in building muscle mass and strength, may also help those with AD, who traditionally have lower levels of both. For now, a combination of exercise types seems to be the best bet to buff against chronic cognitive conditions like AD.

All of this is to say that there are even more reasons to stay active, for both body and mind.

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