Regular exercise may offer some protection against Alzheimer’s disease, even for people who are genetically at risk, according to recent research.
In the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, people who did more moderate-intensity physical activity were more likely to have healthy patterns of glucose metabolism in their brains—a sign of healthy brain activity—than those who did less. Light-intensity physical activity, on the other hand, was not associated with similar benefits.
The study involved 93 adults with an average age of 64, all of whom had at least one parent with Alzheimer’s disease, at least one gene variation linked to Alzheimer’s disease, or both. This put them at high risk for developing the disease themselves, although none showed any cognitive impairment at the time of the study.
To illuminate the relationship between brain activity and exercise levels, everyone wore an accelerometer for a week to measure their daily physical activity and received PET scans to measure glucose metabolism, which reveals neuron health and activity, in several regions of the brain. For people with Alzheimer’s disease, these regions tend to have depressed glucose metabolism.
Researchers found that people who spent at least 68 minutes a day engaged in physical activity at a moderate level—the equivalent of a brisk walk—had better glucose metabolism in all of those regions than those who spent less time doing so.
Read more at TIME.