Alzheimer's disease: a review of exercise as a protective function
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia accounting for between 60-80% of all dementia related cases. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the US and is the only one in the top 10 leading causes of death without a prevention or cure. As the life-expectancy across the world continues to increase, the number of AD cases are expected to likewise increase dramatically. AD is a multifaceted disease. There is no one pathway or genetic predisposition that researches can pinpoint as causing disease in all cases. Approximately 5-10% of cases are caused by an inherited genetic mutation, while 90-95% of cases are sporadic with determined underlying mechanism. This makes treatment for disease extremely difficult. In recent years focus has been given to modifiable risk factors to lower risk for AD, including exercise, diet, cardiovascular health, education, and smoking. This study reviews the possible protective effects of exercise on the development of AD. Randomized control trials (RCTs), longitudinal studies, and meta-analyses and studies in AD mouse models are scrutinized to determine whether there is an association between exercise and lower risk of AD, and to potentially pinpoint the molecular mechanisms behind this protective effect. The majority of studies concur that exercise does lower risk of AD, but the mechanisms still need to be elucidated. Although more research is needed, the results so far have been promising.