Exercise as it relates to Disease/The link between exercise and Alzheimer's disease in older adults

The link between Exercise and Alzheimer's Disease in older Adults

With this investigation, they know that physical exercise has a beneficial effect on Alzheimer disease. However, they wanted to extend the knowledge on the topic and including human findings regarding exercise engagement and biomarkers.

What is the background to this research?Edit

Dementia comprises of "a chronic deterioration of intellectual function and other cognitive skills severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform activities of daily living.[1]" Alzheimer’s disease, is the most common form of dementia; Alzheimer is defined as "a progressive, inexorable loss of cognitive function associated with an excessive number of senile plaques in the cerebral cortex and subcortical gray matter, which also contains β-amyloid and neurofibrillary tangles consisting of tau protein[1]." This disease attacks the brain cell and neurotransmitters[2]. In this article, they show the link between exercise and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers in cognitively normal older adults[3].

Where is the research from?Edit

This research was from;

- Program in Neuroscience, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

- Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

- Department of Radiology

- Hope Center for Neurological Disorders

- Department of Neurology

- Department of Psychiatry

- Department of Genetics

- Department of Psychology

- Washington University, St. Louis, MO.

What kind of research was this?Edit

This research is a qualitative study involving the use of questionnaire, as each participant had to answer a series of questions relating to their life style and then were classified based on their biomarkers levels[3].

What did the research involve?Edit

The study involved sixty-nine participants (17 males, 52 females) that were recruited from the Washington University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Aged between 55 to 88 years, these individuals where screened for neurologic illnesses and injuries. Results showed that these individuals were confirmed to be cognitively normal. Following, each participant was questioned on their physical exercise levels over the past decade. Of these participants, 56 had their cerebrospinal fluid sample collected and 54 of them had an amyloid imaging with PIB performed.

A questionnaire was undertaken over the telephone, asking the participants to report the number of months/years, number of workouts/wk, average number of miles/workout and average time/mile for each year in which they did the WRJ activity over a 10-year period.

What were the basic results?Edit

The individuals were then categorized into different groups based on their exercise history and their biomarkers (PIB, CSF tau, ptua or CSF AB42). The individuals with elevated PIB, CSF tau, or ptua, and/or decreased CSF AB42, were revealed as individuals that consistently exercised less. Overall, the results displayed these individuals having varying levels of exercise across biomarker statues. Additionally, these individuals where at greater risk of having Alzheimer's disease.

The study also presented some restrictions, as it was relatively small sample size and the study was limited by the lack of well-established, research-guided threshold for determining at risk levels of biomarkers, particularly for tau and ptua[3].

What conclusions can we take from this research?Edit

From reading this article, we can interpret, that individuals that exercise are less prone to AD and also have a lower MCBP, CSF tau, and ptua or higher CSF42. These observations were established by comparing the exercise scores of those with at-rick biomarkers levels against those with normal levels. [3] With this information and the results from the study we can see a positive link between the way physical activity can affect an individual overall life and the affect it can have on individuals with Alzheimer disease. Conclusively, as this study was a self-report it wasn’t satisfactory in the way it, related to the individuals cardiorespiratory fitness. This can also be limited by the individual ability to recall and report their exercise over a 10-year span.

Practical adviceEdit

Further readingEdit

BMC Women's Health

Alzheimer's disease


  1. a b Beers MH, Berkow R, eds: The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy. 1999, Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories
  2. Alzheimer's disease. (2017). Healthdirect.gov.au. Retrieved 20 September 2017, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/alzheimers-disease
  3. a b c Liang, K. Y., Mintun, M. A., Fagan, A. M., Goate, A. M., Bugg, J. M., Holtzman, D. M., Morris, J. C. and Head, D. Liang, K., Mintun, M., Fagan, A., Goate, A., Bugg, J., & Holtzman, D. et al. (2010). Exercise and Alzheimer's disease biomarkers in cognitively normal elderly individuals. Annals Of Neurology, 68(3), 311-318. doi:10.1002/ana.22096