Alzheimer's disease is on the rise. By 2030, the global prevalence of this disease is predicted to reach 65.7 million. While a cure for the disease may not yet be on the horizon, researchers estimate that delaying the onset of Alzheimer's by six months can reduce the prevalence of the disease by 100,000 persons after 10 years.
Dr. Etnier hopes to better understand the link between exercise and dementia.
A substantial number of studies are demonstrating that the key to improving cognitive performance and delaying the onset of Alzheimer's may be something that many do every day: exercise. However, inherited factors are also a key determinant in the ultimate development of the disorder. Dr. Jennifer Etnier, a professor of sport and exercise psychology in the Department of Kinesiology, is investigating this link between exercise and Alzheimer's to try to understand if a person's genetic risk for the disease impacts the cognitive benefits of exercise.
Given that there is no treatment for Alzheimer's disease, that the maintenance of cognitive function is one of the most pressing concerns of older adults, and the growing number of older adults with AD, says Etnier, it is vital that we learn more about behavioral interventions (like physical activity) that can protect cognitive performance.
Etnier's research has captured the attention of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who awarded her a $275,000, two-year grant to study preventative strategies that may decrease the risk of dementia for a person who has a first-degree relative with Alzheimer's disease. Her study has been ongoing since the fall of 2012, and there may be ways that you can help.
Etnier is looking for participants in her study who will be invited to join a free eight-month exercise program. Participants must be 50-65 years old, have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer's disease, not be regularly physically active and plan to live in Greensboro for the next year. Certain exclusion criteria also apply. Prospective participants undergo a telephone screening to determine eligibility and, once selected, undergo three testing sessions at UNCG, each lasting approximately one hour, and participate in a free exercise program at UNCG three days a week for eight months.
If you or someone you know may be interested in participating in the study, you can contact Etnier's team via email at PAADStudy@gmail.com or by phone at 336-334-3275.
You can also read more about Etnier's study at University News.