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Exercise may reduce Alzheimer's risk among those genetically predisposed to the disease

Need some extra motivation to keep your New Year's resolution to increase your daily physical activity? Consider new research suggesting that exercise may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's among individuals who are genetically predisposed to the disease.

For the study, researchers examined the association between exercise and amyloid deposits in the brain among 201 cognitively normal patients. Individuals ranged in age from 45 to 88. Volunteers competed questionnaires on their physical activity during the past decade, were tested for the APOE e4 allele, a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and underwent spinal fluid tests or brain images to determine if their brains had amyloid deposits. Roughly one-third of the group possessed the APOE e4 allele. None exhibited symptoms of the brain disorder.Bloomberg reports:

Carriers of the Alzheimer's gene APOE-4 who regularly exercised over a decade were five to 10 times less likely to have brain plaques linked to the disease than those with the gene who weren't physically active, said John C. Morris, senior author of the study published today in Archives of Neurology.


While the study shows that those who exercised had fewer amyloid plaques in the brain, the signature markers of the disease, more follow up is needed to see if exercise actually delayed or blocked symptoms, he said.

The findings add to a growing body of research showing that staying active may delay, or prevent, the onset of the disease.

Previously: Study shows physically fit older adults have fewer age-related changes in their brains and Exercise may lower women's risk of dementia later in life, Power walking plus "Plants vs. Zombies" may help protect against memory loss, Stanford biostatistician talks about saving your aging brain and Studying ways to combat mental decline in aging
Photo by Stuart Richards

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