CHHM Core Member, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose - Further evidence that Strength Training Key In Preventing Alzheimer's

CHHM Core Member, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose - Further evidence that Strength Training Key In Preventing Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer's Association International Conference® (AAIC) is the world's largest conference of its kind, bringing together over 5,000 researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.

At this year’s AAIC held in Vancouver (July 14-19, 2012), work presented by CHHM Core Member, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose and her team provided further evidence for the positive effect of strength training in preventing Alzheimer's Disease. Media coverage from the first day of the conference highlighted two studies led by Dr. Liu-Ambrose which examined the ability of targeted exercise training to promote improved mental functioning and reduced risk for cognitive impairment and dementia in cognitively healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

In one study, Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s doctoral student Lindsay Nagamatsu reported on the results of the EXCEL (EXercise for Cognition and Everyday Living) study which compared the effects of both twice-weekly resistance training (weight lifting) (n=28) and twice-weekly aerobic training (walking) (n=30) with twice-weekly balance and tone exercises (n=28) on executive cognitive function in women aged 70-80 with probable MCI in a 6-month randomized controlled trial.

"MCI is a critical window to intervene against dementia," Liu-Ambrose said. "We found that twice-weekly resistance training is a promising strategy to alter the trajectory of cognitive decline in seniors with MCI."

Compared with the balance and tone group, the resistance training group showed significant improvement in executive functions and associative memory. Resistance training also led to functional changes in three brain regions involved in memory. In contrast, the aerobic training group did not show similar improvements.

A second study, run by Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s post-doctoral fellow Nader Fallah, focused on ascertaining the simultaneous impact of different types of targeted exercise training and relevant person factors (e.g., baseline function) on transitions in cognitive function. A better understanding of individual characteristics on dynamics in cognitive function secondary to targeted exercise training would increase our capacity to refine current interventions to maximize benefits. Dr. Fallah demonstrated that resistance training is efficacious in improving selective attention and conflict resolution in cognitively healthy older women -- especially among those with higher baseline function.

"Before our study, we had no appreciation of the simultaneous impact of targeted exercise training and other factors, such as baseline cognitive status, on cognitive change in older adults. By using a multi-state transition model, we demonstrated that the probability of improving selective attention and conflict resolution in older adults is most evident among those with higher baseline cognitive status – which is different from the current general opinion," Liu-Ambrose said. She concluded that targeted exercise training for older adults should be delivered in parallel with specific cognitive training aimed at improving self-regulatory capacity.

Please see below for links to media coverage of Dr. Liu-Ambrose's work.

chinadaily.com – July 17, 2012
Resistance training valuable in dementia fight for older adults
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CNN Health – Nadia Kounang – July 16, 2012
Strength Training Key In Preventing Alzheimer's
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Bloomberg Business Week - Nicole Ostrow - July 15, 2012
Walking, Resistance Training May Improve Memory in Study

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Digital Journal – PR Newswire – Vancouver - July 15, 2012
Four Clinical Trials Further Clarify The Role Of Physical Activity In Cognitive Function And Dementia
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Huffington Post UK – Sarah O’Meara – July 16, 2012
WeightLifting Could Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Studies Suggest
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Family Practice News – Michelle G. Sullivan – July 16, 2012
Studies Clarify the Mental Benefits of Exercise in Aging
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Health Day – Kathleen Doheny – July 16, 2012
Exercise May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s
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io9.com – George Dvorsky – July 16, 2012
Lifting weights slows down memory loss
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Helping You Care – July 17, 2012
Strength Training & Walking Improve Brain & Memory, New Studies Find
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