Okonkwo team finds moderate physical activity positively affects glucose metabolism

Dr. Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and researcher for the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, recently conducted the study, “Moderate Physical Activity is Associated with Cerebral Glucose Metabolism in Adults at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease.”

The study found that people with no cognitive impairment, who are in late-middle age, and have a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, can in fact take steps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This can be done through implementing moderate physical activity into their daily lives.

The research showed that people who spent at least 68 minutes a day engaged in moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, had better glucose metabolism, which measures brain health and activity, than those who spent less time engaging in moderate physical activity or spent time engaging in light activity, such as a slow walk.

Through previous research, depressed glucose metabolism in certain parts of the brain has been shown to be prevalent in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Moderate physical activity has been shown to affect the glucose metabolism positively. So, moderate physical activity could be used as a treatment to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease, even despite high genetic risk.

The findings of this research were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, and also written about on the Time website: “How Exercise May Protect he Brain From Alzheimer’s Disease” and on the Eurek!Alert Website: “Alzheimer’s disease study links brain health and physical activity.”