Alzheimer's DementiaExercise

Exercise does not alter lesions in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients

Dr. Laura Podewils from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia says “there is relatively consistent evidence suggesting that older persons who engage in regular or high levels of exercise have a decreased risk for dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, compared to older persons who are inactive.”

OK, but her research shows that physical activity has no effect on the rate of lesion progression in elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.

The study evaluated physical activity and changes in white matter lesions in the brain as measured by magnetic resonance imaging in 179 older adults.

  • 59 with Alzheimer disease
  • 60 with mild cognitive impairment
  • 60 persons who remained stable over a 5-year follow-up

The bottom line?
Dr. Podewils thinks the mechanism by which physical activity attenuates mental capacity and decreases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease could be due to effects on blood vessels and/or nerves. Whatever is happening, “it does not influence the development and progression of white matter lesions.”

4/21/07 13:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.