Exercise could offer benefits to those with Alzheimer's

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Early-stage Alzheimer's patients who maintained better physical fitness also have been shown to have bigger, more fit brains, researchers announced.

While one conclusion could be that staying fit will stave off brain shrinkage linked with Alzheimer's progresses, investigators cautioned that results are preliminary and do not necessarily signify cause and effect. Study findings appeared in Tuesday's issue of Neurology.

"We're interested in how exercise impacts the Alzheimer's disease process. There's a lot of data in normal older adults that exercising and fitness may have a beneficial effect on brain health, but there's not a lot on Alzheimer's in terms of studies to draw on to inform our recommendations for exercise and fitness," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Burns, the director of the Alzheimer's and Memory Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. "We're interested in better defining that relationship."

The study involved 120 people, all 60 or older, and their oxygen consumption rates while walking on a treadmill. About half of the study subjects had early-stage Alzheimer's.