Can Exercise Fight off Alzheimer’s?

There are many myths floating around about how to prevent memory loss and slow down the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. But do any of them work? While the jury may still be out for some more recent trends, such as brain-healthy foods and new age medications, one thing is for certain—exercise is an age old preventative tool for a longer life and high functioning mind! 

A recent study in Medical News Today claimed that engaging in exercise-related activities can keep the body young and healthy. Similarly, the same appears to be relevant for cognitive abilities, as ten minutes of daily physical exercise—according to this study—helps boost the function of the mind short-term. And the study takes it a step further, claiming that exercising consistently for six months can reverse symptoms of “mild cognitive impairment.” Is this too good to be true or do we all really need to be hitting those exercise bikes to keep our brains functioning properly? 

When we exercise, there’s a protein called “irisin” that is released. People with lower-than-normal irisin levels in the brain struggled with short-term memory. In studies with rodents, when given irisin, their memory was increased, as was their ability to form and strengthen new synapses. Also, when the irisin in mice was blocked, they were no longer allowed to enjoy the “cognitive boost” that comes from exercise. Clearly, this protein appears to be front and center when it comes to strengthening and maintaining memory and preventing overall memory loss. 

Scientists have since begun to devise irisin-producing therapies that can help those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia in an attempt to slow down the disease. While these therapies are still new, what does remain evident is exercise can help in the production of this protein, which is ultimately good for the brain. 

So it might be worth hitting the exercise bike a few more days a week? I think your brain says yes!