Alzheimer's Disease

Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's disease as well as to improve cognition in healthy and cognitively impaired individuals. However, the mechanisms of these benefits are not well understood. The stress hypothesis suggests that the cognitive benefits attributed to exercise may partially be mediated by changes in the cortisol secretion pattern.
Elsevier, Neurobiology of Stress, Volume 8, February 2018
Stress is critically involved in the development and progression of disease. From the stress of undergoing treatments to facing your own mortality, the physiological processes that stress drives have a serious detrimental effect on the ability to heal, cope and maintain a positive quality of life. This is becoming increasingly clear in the case of neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases involve the devastating loss of cognitive and motor function which is stressful in itself, but can also disrupt neural circuits that mediate stress responses.
Elsevier, Neurobiology of Stress, Volume 8, February 2018
Clinical studies indicate that Alzheimer's disease (AD) disproportionately affects women in both disease prevalence and severity, but the mechanisms underlying this sex divergence are unknown. Though some have suggested this difference in risk is a reflection of known differences in longevity between men and women, mounting clinical and preclinical evidence supports women also having intrinsic susceptibilities towards the disease. While a number of potential risk factors have been hypothesized to affect these differences in risks, none have been definitively verified.
Physical activity and stress are both environmental modifiers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk. Animal studies of physical activity in AD models have largely reported positive results, however benefits are not always observed in either cognitive or pathological outcomes and inconsistencies among findings remain. Studies using forced exercise may increase stress and mitigate some of the benefit of physical activity in AD models, while voluntary exercise regimens may not achieve optimal intensity to provide robust benefit.
Elsevier, Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms, Volume 2, 2017
Sleep disorders are prevalent in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and a major cause of institutionalization. Like AD pathology, sleep abnormalities can appear years before cognitive decline and may be predictive of dementia. A bidirectional relationship between sleep and amyloid β (Aβ) has been well established with disturbed sleep and increased wakefulness leading to increased Aβ production and decreased Aβ clearance; whereas Aβ deposition is associated with increased wakefulness and sleep disturbances. Aβ fluctuates with the sleep-wake cycle and is higher during wakefulness and lower during sleep.

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