Frequent exercise has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s-related death. However, what kind of activity and how much exercise counts as regular exercise?

Researchers examined over 90,000 adults in a recent study that was published in the journal Lancet Health Longevity to examine the potential effects of moderate to intense physical activity on an individual’s risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.8 million Americans are thought to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Over the past 20 years, the number of deaths in the United States linked to Alzheimer’s disease has increased by more than 145%. While environmental and genetic variables seem to have a role in the disease’s development, scientists are still unsure of the precise etiology.
There is one particularly intriguing correlation between physical activity and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s unclear, though, just how much activity is necessary to experience these benefits. Thus far.

A team from the University of Zaragoza in Spain, the University of Calgary in Canada, the University of Cadiz in Spain, and the University of Sydney in Australia investigated the relationship between participants’ physical activity levels and their risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease by combining data from 22 waves of the U.S. National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2018.
Anything that caused light perspiration or a modest increase in respiration and/or heart rate for at least ten minutes qualified as moderate physical activity for the purposes of their study. Any exercise that resulted in significant increases in heart rate, respiration, or perspiration for ten minutes or more was considered vigorous.

Although a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s-related death was linked to moderate physical activity, this relationship was statistically insignificant. But even after just 20 minutes a week, high-intensity exercise did seem to dramatically lower the death rate.

But after a certain level of exercise, this association between reduced risk and, in some cases, increased disease-associated mortality, waned. The researchers came to the conclusion that 140 minutes a week was the ideal amount of intense exercise to do in order to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This period of exercise was linked to a 31% decrease in Alzheimer’s cases.

Based on these findings, the researchers estimated that, in comparison to a situation in which no adult in the United States engaged in the same activity, 40 minutes a week of vigorous physical exercise would prevent 12,238 deaths annually in the United States, while 140 minutes a week would prevent 37,710 deaths annually