Aerobic exercise, a physical exercise of low to high intensity, can delay and even improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease compared to other forms of exercise, a study has found.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and geriatric experts have established that exercise can result in better brain health for older adults.

The agency recommended that older adults allocate 150 minutes per week for exercise such as brisk walking, 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise, or a combination, as well as muscle training to keep the brain healthy.

“However, not all studies of exercise and older adults have proven the benefits of exercise. We don’t know for sure whether exercise slows mental decline or improves older adult’s ability to think and make decisions,” noted a group of researchers, whose meta analysis is published in the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers, led by Gregory M. Panza, MS,  focused on Alzheimer’s Disease, a chronic neurodegenerative disease that starts slow and worsens over time. The disease makes up a significant portion of all dementia cases, about 60 to 70 percent.

The researchers included 19 studies which looked at the effects of exercise training programme on older adults’ cognitive function for their meta-analysis.

Overall, the studies included 1,145 older adults in their mid to late 70s. Sixty five percent of the participants were at risk for Alzheimer’s and 35 percent were already diagnosed.

In the study, those who do aerobic exercise only by itself have three times greater level of improvement in cognitive function, as compared to participants who participated in aerobic exercise combined with strength training.

“Our findings suggest that exercise training may delay the decline in cognitive function that occurs in individuals who are at risk of or have AD, with aerobic exercise possibly having the most favorable effect,” concluded the researchers.

The findings suggested that aerobic exercise, compared with other types of exercise, may be more effective with older adults at risk or diagnosed with AD, but further testing is needed.

“Additional randomized controlled clinical trials that include objective measurements of cognitive function are needed to confirm our findings,” noted the researchers. MIMS