A new study released at the International Conference on Alzheimer's disease revealed exercise may help memory in those patients in the early stages of the fatal disease.
Patients who performed better on a treadmill test had less atrophy in the areas of the brain that control memory, according to the study.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the study showed less shrinkage in the hippocampus region of the brains of Alzheimer's patients who had higher fitness scores. This area of the brain is one of the first to suffer damage in the disease.
The new study was released in Chicago Sunday. Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., studied the connection between cardio respiratory fitness and regional brain volume in more than 100 people over the age of 60. About half were healthy older adults and half were in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
Lead Researcher Robyn A. Honea said the study suggests, "Maintaining cardio respiratory fitness may positively modify Alzheimer's- related brain atrophy."
It is not clear yet whether exercise helped avoid brain damage or if brain damaged people have less ability to exercise.
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. Scientists have learned a great deal about Alzheimer's disease in the century since Dr. Alzheimer first drew attention to it.
Is a progressive and fatal brain disease. As many as 5 million Americans are living with the disease that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life.
Alzheimer's gets worse over time. Today it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the Alzheimer's Organization the differences between someone with the disease and normal memory loss as we grow older is distinct.
Someone with Alzheimer's forgets an entire experience while normal age-related memory loss would be forgetting part of an experience.
Normal loss means they often remember later, while those with the disease rarely remember.
They are gradually unable to follow written or spoken directions while normal memory loss allows you to do so. Those with the disease gradually are unable to use notes as reminders while those with normal age related loss could use notes.
They can also continue to care for themselves while someone with the disease is gradually unable to care for himself or herself.
While there is no cure for the disease, several different drugs have shown promising results.
The National Institute on Aging and National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke funded the study.