April 13, 2011

Walking Helps Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk In Women

Scientists said that taking a brisk half-hour walk every other day could help cut the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

According to researchers, moderate exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, which "washes away" debris thought to cause the degenerative disease.

The scientists discovered that older women who walked between 30 and 50 minutes for three or four times a week had an increased blood flow to the brain by as much as 15 percent.

The scientists at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas said this helped prevent Alzheimer's in two ways.

"First, the blood brings oxygen, glucose and other nutrients to the brain, which are vital for the brain's health," they said.

"Second, the blood washes away brain metabolic wastes such as amyloid-beta protein released into the brain's blood vessels. Amyloid-beta protein has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease."

The study measured how much blood flow into the brain changed in the 16 participants, who were all women aged 60 or over.

The three-month study found that cerebral blood flow increased by 15 percent in the left carotid artery and 11 percent in the right artery.

Dr. Rong Zhang, the head of the study, said:  "There are many studies that suggest that exercise improves brain function in older adults, but we don't know exactly why the brain improves."

"Our study indicates it might be tied to an improvement in the supply of blood flow to the brain."

Zhang pointed out that the importance of the finding is that improvement in brain flow is possible in one's senior years.

"We often start to see a decline in brain perfusion and cognitive function in the 60s and 70s. That's when the downward trajectory starts. We want to see how much we can do to reverse or delay that process."

The researchers presented the results of their study at the 2011 Experimental Biology meeting in Washington, DC.


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