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Exercise may help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease

Exercise may help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease

Research has shown that exercise reverses the changes that cause disease symptoms. (photo: shutterstock)

Physical exercise such as weight training can prevent or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms and serve as a simple and accessible treatment for patients with the disease. The conclusion was published by researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) and the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends resistance exercises as the best option for maintaining balance and posture, and thus preventing falls. Resistance exercises, such as weight training, are characterized by contractions of specific muscles against external resistance. It is a key strategy for increasing muscle mass, strength, and bone density. Plus, it helps prevent muscle weakness, making everyday tasks easier.

To monitor the neuroprotective effects of this practice, the researchers conducted experiments on transgenic mice that have a mutation responsible for the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. These proteins clump together in the central nervous system, impairing synapse transmission and causing damage to neurons, which are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

During the study, which was funded by the São Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP), the animals were trained to climb stairs with loads attached to their tails. The exercise mimics what can be done on the equipment used in gyms. At the end of four weeks, examinations of blood samples taken from the mice showed that the level of the hormone equivalent to cortisol in humans (an increase in which is associated with stress and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease) had normalized. It was equal to that of the control group, with healthy animals. Brain analysis also revealed a decrease in the formation of beta-amyloid plaques.

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to be sure

“This confirms that physical activity can reverse the neuropathological changes that cause clinical symptoms of the disease,” says study co-author Henrique Correia Campos. says Deidiane Elisa Ribeiro, researcher in the Neurosciences Laboratory at IQ-USP, who shares first author of the article with Campos. This movement is interpreted as a characteristic of agitation in some patients with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

“Physical resistance exercise is increasingly being confirmed as an effective strategy to prevent the onset of sporadic Alzheimer’s symptoms (not linked to the genetic mutation), which are multifactorial and may be related to aging, or to delay them in cases of the familial form of the disease,” says Beatrice Montero-Lungo, Professor of Neurophysiology. In Unifesp and coordinating work. “The main likely reason for this is the anti-inflammatory action.”