28 January 2013
A walk a day could keep Alzheimer’s at bay
New research has shown that a brisk walk a day triggers processes in the brain which could protect against the disease.
Scientists from the University of Nottingham carried out work to determine the role of CRF (corticotrophin-releasing factor) in the onset of the condition. Normal levels of the hormone are beneficial to the brain and previous studies have found that people living with Alzheimer’s have reduced CRF levels.
The study involved blocking CRF in mice that had a form of the disease. The mice had reduced
anxiety but increased reaction in a stressful situation. This was because of an abnormal functioning of the brain receptor CRFR1 which is activated by CRF and explains why people
susceptible to stress are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
In the mice moderate exercise restored normal function allowing CRF’s memory enhancing effects. The results support the idea that regular exercise improves the ability to deal with everyday stress and maintain mental acuity.
Dr Marie-Christine Pardon, from the University of Nottingham, said, “This is the first time researchers have been able to identify a brain process directly responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise in slowing down the progression of the early memory decline characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.”
She added, “Overall, this research provides further evidence a healthy lifestyle involving exercise slows down the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and opens avenues for the new interventions targeting the altered CRFR1 function associated with the early stages of the disease.”