A higher level of physical fitness significantly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Forgetfulness, confusion, disorientation: the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are complex. To date, there is no chance of recovery for those affected. But there are ways to protect yourself from the disease.

As the press release on a preliminary study published in the United States shows, a person’s individual fitness level can have a significant influence on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, physically fit people are less likely to develop this form of dementia than physically less fit people.1

Study of 649,605 people

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 649,605 people with an average age of 61. At the start of the project, the subjects showed no signs of Alzheimer’s disease. They were accompanied over a period of nine years.

First, the scientists determined the fitness level of the study participants. This allowed them to later make statements about the link to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. To do this, they measured cardiorespiratory fitness. This provides information about the body’s ability to transport oxygen to the muscles and the ability of the muscles to take in oxygen during training. A treadmill fitness test also provided information on physical performance and maximum possible physical exertion. The subjects were then divided into five groups, based on their individual fitness level.

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Fitness level may affect Alzheimer’s risk

After taking into account other factors that may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers found that people in the group with the highest fitness level had a risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease of 33% lower than the group with the best lowest fitness level. fitness level. The group with the second best fitness level reduced their risk by 26% compared to the worst group. People whose level of fitness ranked third still had a 13% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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It’s never too late to activate

Particularly noteworthy: Apparently, it’s worth increasing your activity level to reap the benefits. This is also confirmed by study leader Edward Zamrini of the Washington VA Medical Center in the press release. He says: “An exciting finding from this study is that as fitness levels increased, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease decreased.” Thus, one could gradually work towards slowly increasing exercise levels and gradually improving fitness levels. In this way, it might be possible to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and benefit from it in the long term. Zamrini, who is also a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, hopes in the future to develop a customizable scale that will show people the benefits that even small improvements in their physical condition can bring.

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Exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle

It is well known that a healthy lifestyle can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer Research Initiative eV focuses on physical activity: “Exercise not only improves our physical fitness, but also keeps our brain healthy. It is better supplied with blood, the nerve cells are strengthened and new nerve cells can even form. In this way, the brain is better protected and its performance is maintained for longer.2

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Study limitations

However, the study has certain limitations. The participants were primarily white men, so the results may not be generalizable to other population groups. Additionally, the researchers used the Veterans Health Administration database. All data used therefore refer to veterans. People in other professions were not part of the study.

Additionally, the study will only be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Until the research results are published in a peer-reviewed journal, they are considered preliminary.


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