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ASU study to look at non-drug treatments that could help prevent Alzheimer's disease

A study out of Arizona State University will explore how exercise and brain training can affect memory in people who have mild cognitive impairment. 

First let's define mild cognitive impairment…

"For people with MCI, it may be difficult for them to do things as efficiently as they used to, but they are fully capable," said Fang Yu. She’s a professor and the Edson Chair in Dementia Translational Nursing Science at ASU.

She says MCI is an important phase because not everyone will progress to dementia.

"And what we're hoping to accomplish is using exercise on cognitive activities to prevent people from going into dementia," she says

The study’s open to anyone 65 and older. Participants will also receive a paid gym membership and MRI brain scans. 

"So basically, what we're hoping to do is identify non drug treatments for preventing Alzheimer's disease, because Alzheimer's disease is a pathology that develops over years and decades."

Yu says staying socially active and continuing to work can help maintain brain health. Here are other tips Yu recommends:

Aerobic exercise

○     ACSM: Physical activity guidelines

■     150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.

■     30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per day, most days of the week

○     The American Heart Association has a lot of information on fitness

○     Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition

○     American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids

○     CDC – How much physical activity do adults need?

Resistance exercise

○     ACSM: Physical activity guidelines

■     2-3 days per week; training large muscle groups

○     American Heart Association – Strength and Resistance Training Exercise

○     American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines for Strength Training

○     CDC – Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults

Cognitive activities

○     National Institute on Aging – Cognitive Health and Older Adults

○     Center on Aging: Cognitive Training for Older Adults; What is it and how does it work?

○     Geisinger: Does brain training to dementia and Alzheimer’s work?

○     Alzheimer’s Association: Brain Fitness

○     American Psychology Association: Brain training reduces dementia risk across 10-years

Heart-healthy diet

○     Mayo Clinic: Heart-healthy diet; 8 steps to prevent heart disease

○     The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

○     Cleveland Clinic: Heart Healthy Diet

○     USDHHS: Heart-Healthy Foods Shopping List

Vascular Diseases

○     Type 2 Diabetes

■     Preventive: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

■     CDC: Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

■     Mayo Clinic: Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar

■     American Heart Association: Living Healthy with Diabetes

■     Can Diabetes be controlled by lifestyle activities?

○    CVD

■     American Heart Association: Lifestyle changes for heart attack prevention

■     American Family Physician: Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

■     Harvard Health: Lifestyle changes to lower heart disease risk

■     American Heart Association: Life after a heart attack

○     Stroke

■     CDC: Preventing stroke: Healthy living

■     American Stroke Association: Lifestyle changes to prevent stroke

■     Harvard Health: 7 things you can do to prevent a stroke

■     American Heart Association: 8 things you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke


○       CDC: tips for better sleep

○       Mayo Clinic: 6 steps to better sleep

○       Harvard Health: Sleep well - and reduce your risk of dementia and death

○       AHA: How sleep affects your health infographic

○       American Sleep Association: Get better sleep

 To learn more about an ASU study aimed at preventing Alzheimer’s Disease, go to https://www.theacttrial.com

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.