Recent research suggests that exercise might provide some measure of protection from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. A group of researchers led by Nathan Johnson PT, DPT, PhD of the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences, was able to demonstrate a positive correlation between fitness and blood flow to areas of the brain where the hallmark tangles and plaques of AD pathology are usually first detected. Thirty men and women ages 59-69 were put through treadmill fitness assessments and ultrasounds of the heart. Then they received brain scans to look for blood flow to certain areas of the brain.
“We set out to characterize the relationship between heart function, fitness, and cerebral blood flow, which no other study had explored to date,” Johnson said. “In other words, if you’re in good physical shape, does that improve blood flow to critical areas of the brain? And does that improved blood flow provide some form of protection from dementia?”
The results showed blood flow to critical areas of the brain — and so the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients — was higher in those who were more physically fit.