Resistance training and physical exercise plays a role in alleviating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers suggest.
An article published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience said its beneficial effects serve as a “complementary treatment.”
The work’s Brazilian authors from the Federal University of São Paulo and the University of São Paulo conducted experiments with transgenic mice with a mutation responsible for buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, finding after four weeks of training that their brain tissue showed a decrease in formation of beta-amyloid plaques.
Alzheimer’s disease is partially characterized by amyloid plaques, which can lead to problems with brain function.
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Amyloid plaques, which are found in the tissue between the nerve cells, are unusual clumps of a protein called beta amyloid along with degenerating bits of neurons and other cells, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Beta-amyloid, it says, comes from a larger protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding nerve cells.
In addition, they found that the training normalized plasma levels of corticosterone, which is a hormone equivalent to cortisol in humans. Increased cortisol has previously been associated with faster cognitive decline.
“This confirms that physical activity can reverse neuropathological alterations that cause clinical symptoms of the disease,” Henrique Correia Campos, first author of the article, told the São Paulo Research Foundation. The foundation helped to fund the research.
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They said they believe that anti-inflammatory effects of such training could be a primary reason for these results.
“Resistance exercise is increasingly proving an effective strategy to avoid the appearance of symptoms of sporadic Alzheimer’s [not directly caused by a single inherited genetic mutation], which is multifactorial and may be associated with aging, or to delay their emergence in familial Alzheimer’s. The main possible reason for this effectiveness is the anti-inflammatory action of resistance exercise,” Beatriz Monteiro Longo, last author of the article and a professor of neurophysiology at the Federal University of São Paulo, reportedly said.
The animal model study was based on a review of literature published in the journal where the same group at the Federal University of São Paulo had compiled evidence showing the benefits of resistance exercise on cognitive dysfunction, memory deficit and behavioral issues in Alzheimer’s patients.
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Previous research from the University of Sydney has said such training can help protect brain areas especially vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease up to one year later.