How does exercise affect progression of Alzheimer’s?

  • Alzheimer's disease could become the defining disease for baby boomers
  • Factors including genetics, environment, lifestyle and age contribute to it
  • Exercise and better sleep patterns can help slow its progression

This illustration made available by the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health depicts cells in an Alzheimer’s affected brain, with abnormal levels of the beta-amyloid protein clumping together to form plaques, brown, that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function. Abnormal collections of the tau protein accumulate and form tangles, blue, within neurons, harming synaptic communication between nerve cells. (National Institute on Aging, NIH via AP)

(NewsNation) — Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s may become the defining disease of the baby boomer generation.

According to The Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people age 65 and over living with Alzheimer’s now is nearly 7 million. That number is expected to rise to over 13 million by 2050.

Physician and best-selling author Dr. Ian Smith says it’s not known exactly what causes Alzheimer’s.

“We do know it’s a combination of factors, things like genetics, environment, lifestyle, behaviors, even age,” he said.

Exercise is one way to prevent Alzheimer’s, Smith said. People who regularly exercise reduce their Alzheimer’s risk by 50%, he added.

Controlling one’s blood sugar is also important, as doctors believe cardiovascular illness can lead to an increased risk of getting the disease.

Other aspects of one’s health can make a difference as well, reducing alcohol consumption and improving better sleep patterns, for instance.

“We have found that better sleep hygiene, we call it, can also delay the onset or the progression of Alzheimer’s,” Smith said. “

Many drugs are in the pipeline to prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s, and more will be produced in years to come, Smith said.

“There are researchers, every single day of their professional life, who are investigating it,” he said. “We have a lot of good things on the market now. More will become available.”


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