A young and elderly woman exercise with text "Exercise for Alzheimer's"

It’s a well-known fact that exercise is good for our bodies, but what about our brains? A study from the University of Maryland shows that exercise may protect brain health, even in older adults who are at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. J. Carson Smith, a kinesiology researcher, studied the effects of regular exercise on older adults who were at risk for Alzheimer’s.[1]  Results showed that physical activity can preserve the volume of an individual’s hippocampus. This region of the brain is responsible for memories and is the first part of the brain attacked by Alzheimer’s disease. The study divided participants into four groups based on their risks for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Only the group that was considered a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and who did not exercise, experienced a decrease in brain volume. All the other groups, which included a high genetic risk group, maintained the volume of hippocampus with exercise.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends regular physical exercise to protect the brain and encourage the development of new brain cells. While more research is needed to determine how exercise affects the hippocampal volume, previous studies have shown similar results.


[1] Exercise Keeps Hippocampus Healthy in People at Risk for Alzheimer’s. UMD Right Now. University of Maryland. (2020). Retrieved 2 October 2020, from http://umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/exercise-keeps-hippocampus-healthy-people-risk-alzheimers.

Shrinking Hippocampus Signals Early Alzheimer’s. (May 2009). Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://www/alzinfo.org/articles/shrinking-hippocampus-signals-early-alzheimers/

Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented? Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. (2020). Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://www.alz.org/alzhiemers-dementia/research_progress/prevention

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