How Running Helps Lower Alzheimer & Dementia Risk

Fighting the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms is a challenging prospect. Anything that can help should at least be looked at. It’s also worth paying attention to the latest scientific information and studies coming out.

One recent study has shed some important light on the ways that running and exercise can help people with Alzheimer’s. We’ll be looking at the study and its conclusions to help you understand the latest information regarding helping people with Alzheimer’s.

First, we’ll go over some important information about Alzheimer’s. Then we’ll talk about the details in the study. After that we’ll look at how this study relates to other information on the subject. Finally, we’ll help summarize the study’s conclusions and go over a few more facts from the same study. Use this information, along with information from your doctor or caregiver, to make informed decisions about the best way to care for your health.

Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures

One of the most important facts to remember about Alzheimer’s is how many people have the disease. Current estimates and studies project that about 5 million Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s. That’s a lot of people. Understanding how to help these people is one of the crucial steps that our health care system and society needs to undertake.

Alzheimer’s can be a debilitating illness. It causes people to have problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It can cause or exacerbate other health issues as well. Alzheimer’s is the result of a beta-amyloid plaques that build up in the brain. These proteins accumulate outside of the brains estimated 100 billion neurons. As a result, they interfere with neuron to neuron communication. This results in the symptoms people commonly associate with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Scientists aren’t sure why this buildup occurs, nor do they have a way to stop it. Therefore, any new information about ways to prevent or slow the onset of symptoms offer a boon to people currently afflicted with the disease as well as those who love them.

One of the reasons why it’s so important to continue to study Alzheimer’s and dementia is that there is currently no pharmacological treatment that slows or stops the destruction of neurons, the primary cause of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Although there are six drugs currently approved for treatment of Alzheimer’s by the FDA, these drugs reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. This path of treatment varies in effectiveness from individual to individual.

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The lack of a pharmacological treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia means that non-pharmacological therapies are some of the most productive areas of research. These therapies focus on lifestyle changes and methods that people can use to help lower the risk of getting the disease while also delaying symptoms and reducing the intensity of symptoms. One of the most prominent areas of study for non-pharmacological therapies is the focus on the relationship between exercise and Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll look at some of the latest information involving this connection in the next section.

New Study About Running and Alzheimer’s

A new study was recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. This study was expansive in scope. It included more than 153,000 runners and walkers. These individuals are participants in the National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Studies. The people involved in the study were recruited in the early 1990’s and contribute to lots of different health studies across the nation.

The study found that people who run more than 15.3 miles per week have a 40% risk reduction when it comes to dying from Alzheimer’s. There was also a 25% reduction for people that run between 7.7 and 15.3 miles. However, the 25% reduction group lacked statistical significance in terms of the overall study’s numbers.

15.3 miles of running works out to about 2.2 miles per day. That’s nearly double the current minimum exercise recommendations that come from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These guidelines recommend running 4.6 to 7.7 miles per week.

Walking Also Helps

Another important piece of information produced by the study shows that walking can also deliver these benefits. However, not just any walking will do. The study found that, on average, walkers needed to go about 50% farther than runners.

Additionally, walkers need to walk in a very specific way to reap the benefits touted by the study. Specifically, people need to walk briskly. They also need to put in more overall exercise time. The exact speed needed would be the equivalent of running a 12-minute mile.

In other words, people that walk but don’t run can certainly reap the benefits found in this study. However, they need to put more time and effort into gaining the benefits. As a result, most people will benefit more from running 15.3 miles per week. That’s a bit more than 2 miles per day, so running a mile in one direction and a mile back will get you the results you’re looking for.

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Newest Findings Back Up Previous Studies

This isn’t the first time that a study has demonstrated that exercise is helpful when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s and dementia. Other studies have also demonstrated beneficial effects of exercise when it comes to dealing with these illnesses.

While the exact relationship between exercise and Alzheimer’s is not yet understood, doctors and scientists can confidently say that people who stay active and fit have a reduced risk of contracting the disease. Moreover, people that already have the disease show reduced symptoms and a delay in the onset of symptoms when they exercise regularly.

One of the best things about this information is the fact that people don’t need to have been regular exercisers. Studies also show that even if someone didn’t regularly exercise in the past, they can still get benefits from exercising later in life. These benefits can help delay symptoms and may even prevent the onset of the disease entirely.

Understanding the Relationship Between Alzheimer’s and Exercise

There are lots of studies that analyze the relationship between Alzheimer’s and exercise. These studies universally conclude that the more active someone is throughout the course of their life, the less likely it is that they will suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Studies also show that people who already have Alzheimer’s and dementia get better outcomes if the start exercising regularly. These outcomes include improved mood, behavior, cognitive functions, and memory.

Other Key Findings from Recent Studies

The most recent study listed in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t limit itself to the effects that running has on Alzheimer’s. It also studies the effects of diet as well as different medications. Some of the key findings are summarized below.

Eat More Fruit

The first major finding from the study, other than the effects of running, has to deal with the impact of including fruit in your diet. The study found that ensuring you get at least 3 or more servings of fruit per day have a 60% lower risk of death from Alzheimer’s.

This information can be used in conjunction with other studies that show specific fruits like berries and apples have a clear connection to a decreased risk of cognitive decline. These fruits also show improved brain health when they are consumed regularly.

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Other studies have shown that a poor diet can worsen the impact that Alzheimer’s and dementia has on a person. Eating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains have been shown to reduce the rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They’ve also been shown to delay the onset and reduce the symptoms of people that already have the disease. As a result, carefully monitoring and controlling your diet can be an easy way to help minimize the impact that Alzheimer’s and dementia can have on your life.

Statins for Cholesterol

Another finding from the most recent study shows that people that take statins have a 60% lower risk of death from Alzheimer’s. Statins have been identified as a potential factor for the reduction or preventing of dementia and its associated symptoms before. However, the research has been inconsistent on this point, requiring further study.

One thing that makes studying the effects of statins on Alzheimer’s and dementia easier is the fact that statins are a commonly used drug to lower cholesterol in older individuals. Therefore, there is a broad set of the population that can be analyzed. Scientists can compare the results of people that take statins to those who do not.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s plenty of new information regarding Alzheimer’s and dementia. As scientists continue to explore this disease and learn more about it, we’ll have more accurate and effective information on ways to avoid the disease entirely or how to mitigate the symptoms.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are devastating illnesses. They steal lives from healthy, functioning people. It’s hard for the people that have the disease and hard on their friends, families, and loved ones. Keep checking back to stay up to date on the latest information so you know what you can do to care for yourself and the people you love.

Author

  • Laura @ 262.run

    Laura, a fitness aficionado, authors influential health and fitness write ups that's a blend of wellness insights and celebrity fitness highlights. Armed with a sports science degree and certified personal training experience, she provides expertise in workouts, nutrition, and celebrity fitness routines. Her engaging content inspires readers to adopt healthier lifestyles while offering a glimpse into the fitness regimens of celebrities and athletes. Laura's dedication and knowledge make her a go-to source for fitness and entertainment enthusiasts.