A new study finds people with genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease may be able to stave off the brain changes caused by the disease simply by engaging in a more active lifestyle.


In research published online Jan. 9 in the journal Archives of Neurology, scientists examined the association between exercise and amyloid deposits in the brain (which have long been associated with Alzheimer’s disease) among 201 cognitively normal patients, ages 45 to 88, with and without the APOE e4 allele, the most common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

They found that patients with an active lifestyle had less cerebral amyloid deposition than those who were more sedentary. And while the presence of the APOE e4 gene “is associated with increased risk of cognitive decline and elevated amyloid deposition … exercise engagement has been associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline and lower levels of amyloid deposition.”

“In summary,” the study authors said, “our findings suggest that exercise at levels recommended by the American Heart Association may be particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of brain amyloid deposition in cognitively normal e4-positive individuals.”

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