Vigorous Physical Activity Linked to Reduced Alzheimer’s Mortality

Reduced Alzheimer’s Mortality

  • A new study found that vigorous physical exercise  can help lower dementia  mortality rates more than moderate levels of exercise.
  •  The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. It is the fourth leading cause of death in those over the age of seventy. Although there is currently no cure for most types of dementia, symptoms can be managed, and life expectancy can be increased through certain lifestyle changes Trusted Source.

One such lifestyle change is getting more physical activity. Exercise has long been promoted for reducing the risk of dementia. But new research published in  the Lancet Healthy Longevity, showed  that participating in vigorous physical activity can help lower dementia mortality rate more than moderate physical activity.

Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz the lead author of the study, is a researcher in applied health sciences at the University of Cadiz in Spain.   Dr. Cruz said the researchers decided to examine the difference between moderate and vigorous physical activity and dementia-related mortality because physical activity is often recommended as a means of prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and…” guidelines are generic and do lack direction as to how much and what to do to maximize the benefits of physical activity.”  Their research found that vigorous exercise lowered death rates more than moderate exercise did. Dr. Cruz continues, “I think the message is clear — do engage in vigorous physical activity to maximize the chances of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly a number of other health benefits will also appear. However,we need to replicate the study with objective measures of the exposure (i.e. physical activity). Until then it is difficult to make definitive conclusions about how intensity is crucial for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Classifying Moderate vs. Vigorous Exercise.

Although there will be some overlap depending upon the intensity with which the following activities are done, these lists are a guide to how activities may be classified.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Running
  • Power Walking
  • Swimming
  • Jumping Rope
  • High Intensity Sports


According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Trusted Source, some examples of moderate physical activities are:
  • Bicycling
  • Water Aerobics
  • Social Dancing
  • Volleyball
  • Walking


Cardiorespiratory endurance is a measure of how well the heart, lungs, and muscles perform during moderate to high-intensity physical activity. Getting regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can improve cardiorespiratory endurance. Aerobic exercises can help promote heart and lung health and improve how well the body circulates and utilizes oxygen.

In 2022 a presentation was made at the American Academy of Neurology’s 74th Annual Meeting regarding cardiovascular fitness studies and it  reported that those who actively engaged in exercise promoting  cardiorespiratory fitness reduced their overall dementia risk by 33%.

Cardiorespiratory endurance can be measured by monitoring the heart, lungs, and muscles during moderate to high intensity exercise. When a person inhales, their lungs fill up with air and oxygen passes into the bloodstream. The oxygen-rich blood then travels to the heart, and circulates around the body to the tissues and organs that need it. Improved cardiorespiratory endurance enhances oxygen uptake in the lungs and heart and helps a person sustain physical activity for a longer sustained period of time.

Tests that measure cardiorespiratory endurance are:

Metabolic equivalents

Metabolic equivalents (METs); This is the ratio between the energy expended during physical activity versus  the energy expended while at rest.

Maximum oxygen uptake (V02 max);

This test determines the maximum amount of oxygen the body is capable of using during high-intensity activities, such as sprinting.

The VO2 max test typically involves running on a treadmill or pedaling on a stationary bike as fast as one can  during the test.  The person wears a body attachment that records their heart rate and a face mask that measures oxygen consumption. Having a high cardiorespiratory endurance generally means that a person can perform high-intensity exercise for longer.

Scientific research has also shown that there are other potential health benefits from having an improved cardiorespiratory endurance. For example:


  • 2017 study Trusted Source showed that people with higher cardiorespiratory endurance have a  lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those with less cardiorespiratory endurance.
  • 2015 study Trusted Source, found a relationship between cardiorespiratory endurance levels and multitask performance among adults aged 59 to 80 years of age.
  • Another 2015 study Trusted Source showed that improving cardiorespiratory endurance lowers the risk of coronary heart disease and mortality risk as well
  • .People can improve their cardiorespiratory endurance through regular exercise.
  • A  2019 study Trusted Source demonstrated  that resistance training, endurance training, and high-intensity interval training all lead to improvement in cardiorespiratory endurance. As a result of that improvement in those who were not physically active beforehand, numerous health benefits will result.

    2017 study investigated the effectiveness of a 12-week cross-circuit training program. Participants in the training program improved exercise endurance, muscle strength, and body mass index.

  • Exercise recommendations should be individualized
  •  Ryan Glatt, is director of the FitBrain Program at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, CA. He says, 

    “More research is needed to better understand the role of acute variables of exercise programs, such as intensity, frequency, type, and duration, in populations with variable risk factors. Such research would aid in more individualized exercise recommendations for dementia prevention, among other desired health outcomes.”

  • Dementia prevention exercise tips  Dr Glatt’s advises that people should try to adhere to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Trusted Source.
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