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Exercise and Alzheimer’s Disease


Written by: Julia Basso , PhD

Affiliation: New York University, Center for Neural Science

As we age, many of us experience problems with memory.  In some cases, these issues may progress to Mild Cognitive Impairment or dementia.  Dementia is a disorder characterized by significant cognitive impairment, especially in the areas of learning, memory, and language, that interferes with every-day living and independence.  The most common cause of dementia (60-70% of cases) is Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  AD is a degenerative disorder of the brain typified by memory loss, problems in planning or problem solving, confusion with time or place, and changes in mood including depression.  These symptoms worsen over time and in later stages, individuals who suffer from AD often need full-time care.  In the United States, 11% of individuals who are 65 or older have AD, with the majority (i.e., 82%) being older than 75. 

AD is caused by a series of changes in the brain that ultimately lead to cell death.  In and around the cells of the brain (neurons), irregular protein formations occur to create what are known as plaques (accumulation of beta-amyloid outside of neurons) and tangles (accumulation of tau inside of neurons), which are characteristic markers of AD.  These irregular protein formations cause neurons to malfunction and die, leading to significant loss of brain volume, especially in areas involved in learning and memory such as the hippocampus and cortex.

  Why a person develops AD is not completely known; however, certain factors increase your risk of developing this disease...

This post is an excerpt from an article, originally published in FastTwitchGrandma, and is reprinted here with permission. Click here to read the full article (and other relevant articles) at FastTwitchGrandma.