Resistance training could be simple and affordable therapy for patients with Alzheimer's disease
Brazil: Findings from a recent study have shown the importance of resistance exercise (RE) in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and highlighted the beneficial effects of resistance training as a complementary AD treatment. "Regular physical exercise, such as resistance training, can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, or at least delay the appearance of symptoms, and serves as a...
Brazil: Findings from a recent study have shown the importance of resistance exercise (RE) in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and highlighted the beneficial effects of resistance training as a complementary AD treatment.
"Regular physical exercise, such as resistance training, can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, or at least delay the appearance of symptoms, and serves as a simple and affordable therapy for Alzheimer’s patients," researchers reported in Frontiers in Neuroscience.
Although older people and dementia patients are unlikely to be able to do long daily runs or perform other high-intensity aerobic exercises, these activities are the focus of most scientific studies on Alzheimer’s. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends resistance exercise as the best option to train balance, improve posture and prevent falls. Resistance exercise entails the contraction of specific muscles against external resistance. It is considered an essential strategy to increase muscle mass, strength and bone density and to improve overall body composition, functional capacity and balance. It also helps prevent or mitigate sarcopenia (muscle atrophy), making everyday tasks easier to perform.
To observe the neuroprotective effects of this practice, researchers in UNIFESP’s Departments of Physiology and Psychobiology, and the Department of Biochemistry at USP’s Institute of Chemistry (IQ-USP), conducted experiments involving transgenic mice with a mutation responsible for a buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. The protein accumulates in the central nervous system, impairs synaptic connections and damages neurons, all of which are features of Alzheimer’s disease.
During the FAPESP funded study, the mice were trained to climb a 110 cm ladder with a slope of 80° and 2 cm between rungs. Loads were attached to their tails corresponding to 75%, 90% and 100% of their body weight. The experiment mimicked certain kinds of resistance training humans undertake in fitness centres.
At the end of a four-week period of training, blood samples were taken to measure plasma levels of corticosterone, the hormone in mice equivalent to cortisol in humans; rising levels in response to stress heighten the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Levels of the hormone were normal (equal to those found in the control group comprising animals without the mutation) in the exercise-trained mice, and analysis of their brain tissue showed a decrease in formation of beta-amyloid plaques.
“This confirms that physical activity can reverse neuropathological alterations that cause clinical symptoms of the disease,” said Henrique Correia Campos, first author of the article.
“We also observed the animals’ behavior to assess their anxiety in the open field test [which measures avoidance of the central area of a box, the most stress-inducing area] and found that resistance exercise reduced hyperlocomotion to similar levels to the controls among mice with the phenotype associated with Alzheimer’s,” said Deidiane Elisa Ribeiro, co-first author of the article and a researcher at IQ-USP’s Neuroscience Laboratory. Agitation, restlessness and wandering are frequent early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
“Resistance exercise is increasingly proving an effective strategy to avoid the appearance of symptoms of sporadic Alzheimer’s [not directly caused by a single inherited genetic mutation], which is multifactorial and may be associated with aging, or to delay their emergence in familial Alzheimer’s. The main possible reason for this effectiveness is the anti-inflammatory action of resistance exercise,” said Beatriz Monteiro Longo, last author of the article and a professor of neurophysiology at UNIFESP.
Review of the literature
The animal model study was based on a review of the literature published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, where the same group at UNIFESP compiled clinical evidence that the benefits of resistance exercise include positive effects on cognitive dysfunction, memory deficit and behavioural issues in Alzheimer’s patients, concluding that it can be an affordable alternative or adjuvant therapy.
Researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP) in Brazil also participated in the study.
“Alzheimer’s doesn’t only affect the patient. The entire family is affected, especially in low-income households,” said Caroline Vieira Azevedo, first author of the review article and a graduate student at UNIFESP. “Both articles offer information that can be used to stimulate the creation of public policies. Imagine the cost savings if the appearance of symptoms in older patients is deferred by ten years.”
Henrique Correia Campos, Deidiane Elisa Ribeiro, Debora Hashiguchi, Talita Glaser, Milena da Silva Milanis, Christiane Gimenes, Deborah Suchecki, Ricardo, Neuroprotective effects of resistance physical exercise on the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2023.1132825.
Dr Kamal Kant Kohli-MBBS, DTCD- a chest specialist with more than 30 years of practice and a flair for writing clinical articles, Dr Kamal Kant Kohli joined Medical Dialogues as a Chief Editor of Medical News. Besides writing articles, as an editor, he proofreads and verifies all the medical content published on Medical Dialogues including those coming from journals, studies,medical conferences,guidelines etc. Before Joining Medical Dialogues, he has served at important positions in the medical industry in India including as the Hony. Secretary of the Delhi Medical Association as well as the chairman of Anti-Quackery Committee in Delhi and worked with other Medical Councils in India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact no. 011-43720751