We now have even more reasons to promote efforts to maintain cardiorespiratory fitness, particularly in middle age. New research shows that proactively improving cardiovascular fitness in people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease may benefit areas of the brain that are adversely affected by AD’s progression.

Scientists believe the most opportune time to modify the course of AD is before substantial brain tissue damage occurs. University of Wisconsin researchers therefore conducted a pilot study to evaluate the positive effects of fitness training for asymptomatic people genetically predisposed to the disease.

Results showed that a progressive 26-week program of 150 minutes per week (3 x 50 minutes) of moderate-intensity treadmill exercise significantly improved executive function and brain glucose metabolism, but not episodic memory, in a study with 23 subjects. More research on a larger scale is needed to validate these findings.

The study was published in Brain Plasticity  (2019; 5 [1], 83–95).