Researchers describe sport as if it were a drug in a study to determine if it can prevent Alzheimer's disease.
"We test whether sport is a drug for people with a mild memory problem," says Laura Baker
The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, could help determine whether physical activity precedes people Memory can protect and not thinking problems related to Alzheimer's.
"The science of the last 20 years suggests that physical activity with the right intensity can protect the health of the brain as we get older," says Baker.
But much of this knowledge comes from studies that were small, took only a few months, or were based on people's estimates of how much they trained.
The EXERT study is different. It involves accidentally assigning 300 people with high Alzheimer's risk for 18 months to one of two groups.
Half of the participants train aerobics like on a treadmill. The other half performs stretching and flexibility exercises for comparison.
The approach is very similar to that used by drug companies to test new drugs. With the exception of this study, participants go to the local YMCA to take their medications.
In order to qualify for the EXERT study, participants must be between 65 and 89 years of age and must not move regularly. They must also show mild cognitive impairment, a type of memory loss often preceded by Alzheimer's.
The study will test participants for memory and thinking. They also have tests to monitor brain blood flow, brain atrophy, and levels of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's California, San Diego, and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, a consortium that oversees the EXERT trial.
"We will not only understand whether the intervention will help people achieve a clinical outcome, but also what the scientific foundations look like," says Feldman.
And even if the study does not preserve memory, the participants benefit from it.