June 29, 2009
Australian researchers will conduct a study to find out if exercise can help fight the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Fitness for the Ageing Brain Study II will be coordinated by the University of Melbourne, the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland, and will target people with Alzheimer's who are living at home.
A previous study carried out by the research team revealed that walking for two-and-a-half hours per week for 24 weeks significantly improved cognitive function in people 50 years and older who had memory complaints.
Professor Nicola Lautenschlager, Chair of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne and director of St Vincent's Aged Psychiatry Service, says evidence is mounting that regular exercise is good for the brain, even in older age.
"In addition to cognitive abilities, we are also interested whether physical activity could improve quality of life and general wellbeing not only for the patient, but also for the carer," Prof Lautenschlager said.
Participants will have personalised training programs and be assessed on their activity using a pedometer, their ability to walk distances, how quickly they can get out of a chair and their ability to grip objects.
"Whilst promising progress has been made in drug development research, there is an urgent need to progress research on non-pharmacological treatment for AD and one of the most promising strategies is physical activity," Prof Lautenschlager said.
People living at home, with mild to moderate AD, and their carers are needed to participate in the study to be carried out in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.