Research Matters

Research Matters

Aerobic exercise and dementia

New research shows that aerobic workouts can help seniors to maintain healthy brain aging.

Aired December 7, 2008


2 minutes (3.7 MB) | Download mp3

Transcript

New research shows that aerobic workouts can help seniors to maintain healthy brain aging. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

David Kevin Johnson, assistant professor of psychology at KU, is an expert on cognition in seniors. It's a research field that includes Alzheimer's disease - the most prevalent form of dementia. During the past year, Johnson has been encouraged by his research showing that aerobic exercise could stave off the devastating effects of Alzheimer's.

Johnson: "The same risk factors for cardiovascular disease are at play in Alzheimer's. When you say something like 'heart-healthy is brain-healthy,' we know that aerobic exercise is good for the heart. It also seems to be very good for Alzheimer's or cognitive decline, however you specify it, in any aging population.

Johnson aims to determine what forms of aerobic exercise are best for seniors. Also, how much exercise is most helpful? And he wants to find out if there is a point of diminishing returns for an exercise prescription. But it is clear already that seniors should exercise regularly.

Johnson: Older adults should not be sedentary. Older adults should try not only to engage socially with friends and families but also be active and fit. They should be walking or exercising at whatever level they're capable and comfortable with.

Johnson, who works in conjunction with the Life Span Institute's Gerontology Center, says the demographics of dementia gives his research more urgency.

Johnson: One in 10 older adults over the age 75 has moderate or even worse cognitive impairment - and the risk of cognitive impairment doubles every five years after that. are a lot of older adults who are having some type of cognitive problem, and we don't understand the process fully yet. It's very important, now that the older adult population in this county is growing nearly exponentially, that we understand those processes quickly.

For more on brain aging in older adults, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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Aerobic exercise and dementia

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