New findings appearing in Neurology journal have found that higher levels of daily movement were associated with better thinking and memory skills, a pattern that remained consistent in people with any form of dementia.
Scientists studied the brains of 454 deceased older adults, 191 of whom had been diagnosed with a form of dementia, according to a news.com.au report. Prior to death, these older adults had undergone thinking and memory tests over a period of 20 years and were given a wrist-worn accelerometer to monitor activity, on average, two years before death.
“People who moved more had better thinking and memory skills compared to those who didn’t move much at all,” said study leader Dr Aron S Buchman, from the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago.
“We found movement may essentially provide a reserve to help maintain thinking and memory skills when there are signs of dementia present in the brain.”
“Exercise might help by strengthening the connections between brain cells – referred to as cognitive reserve – which makes our brain more resilient to the changes that cause cognitive decline,” said Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society.
If you couldn’t find the motivation to get off the couch and go for a walk before, you should now!
There are about 50 million people worldwide with dementia and around 10 million new cases are reported each year. The most common causes of dementia – vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – have no cure.
In another new study, healthline.com reports that disturbed sleep patterns may be linked to a risk for Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine say that older people who spend less time in slow-wave sleep – the sleep phase you need to wake up feeling rested – show increased levels of a brain protein, tau, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our project is the first to show an association between slow-wave sleep and tau in very early Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr Brendan Lucey, an assistant professor of neurology, director of the Washington University Sleep Medicine Centre and lead author of the study.
He explains that tau can form tangles in areas of the brain that are critical for memory. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, this protein and another called amyloid beta slowly spread through the rest of the brain.
But the brain has a way to regularly flush out these memory-robbing proteins.
“Research shows that during sleep, the brain can shrink substantially as it clears built-up toxins, tau and amyloid among them,” said Dr Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine.
Do you suffer from interrupted sleep patterns? Will you try to be more active after reading about the link between a sedentary lifestyle and Alzheimer’s?