The benefits of exercise like aerobics are vast as it is a great choice to burn calories, keep the body in shape and keep the heart healthy. So you may be surprised to know it is advantageous to more than your physical health. Researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise not only improves physical health but also improves cognitive functioning, which might protect against Alzheimer's disease.
University of Wisconsin's lead investigator Ozioma C Okonkwo says,"This study is a significant step toward developing an exercise prescription that protects the brain against Alzheimer's disease, even among people who were previously sedentary."
For the study, researchers investigated 23 cognitively normal, relatively young older adults with a family history or genetic risk for Alzheimer's and a sedentary lifestyle. Half of the participants were randomly assigned information about maintaining an active lifestyle but no further intervention. The other half participated in a moderate intensity treadmill training program with a personal trainer, three times per week for 26 weeks.
In comparison with participants maintaining their usual level of physical activity, individuals assigned to the active training program improved their cardio respiratory fitness, spent less time sedentary after the training program ended, and performed better on cognitive tests of executive functioning (but not episodic memory. Executive function, an aspect of cognition that is known to decline with the progression of Alzheimer's, comprises the mental processes enabling individuals to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
This research shows that a lifestyle behaviour -- regular aerobic exercise -- can potentially enhance brain and cognitive functions that are particularly sensitive to the disease. "The findings are especially relevant to individuals who are at a higher risk due to family history or genetic predisposition," concludes Okonkwo.
*With inputs from IANS