The findings, which were published last week in the open-access journal, “Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy,” showed that compared with people with MCI who also did not engage in physical activity, those who had moderate or vigorous exercise for a minimum of ten minutes more than once a week had an 18% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Of that group, people with mild cognitive impairment who exercised three to five times weekly had a 15% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who exercised less than that.
An 11% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was found among people with mild cognitive impairment who started exercising after their diagnosis compared to people who didn’t exercise altogether.
Not exercising before or after a mild cognitive impairment diagnosis was linked to the same risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as ceasing exercise following the diagnosis.
“Our findings indicate that regular physical activity may protect against the conversion of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease," corresponding author Hanna Cho said in a statement. "We suggest that regular exercise should be recommended to patients with mild cognitive impairment. Even if a person with mild cognitive impairment did not exercise regularly before their diagnosis, our results suggest that starting to exercise regularly after diagnosis could significantly lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”