"Men and women with early-stage Alzheimer's disease who were more physically fit also had larger brains compared to their counterparts in less stellar shape. The findings, though preliminary, may indicate that staying physically fit could slow the brain atrophy (shrinkage) associated with Alzheimer's disease. ‘We're interested in how exercise impacts the Alzheimer's disease process. There's a lot of data in normal older adults that exercising and fitness may have a beneficial effect on brain health, but there's not a lot on Alzheimer's in terms of studies to draw on to inform our recommendations for exercise and fitness,’ said study author Dr. Jeffrey Burns, director of the Alzheimer's and Memory Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City. ‘We used an objective, gold-standard measure of fitness which hadn't been assessed in Alzheimer's patients yet, cardiorespiratory fitness, or VO2 peak, where we basically measure how much work someone is capable of doing,’ Burns explained. The VO2 peak was slightly lower in people with Alzheimer's compared to controls. And individuals with Alzheimer's who were less physically fit had quadruple the amount of brain shrinkage compared to normal older adults.‘The people with higher fitness levels had larger brains, and there was a strong correlation between the two,’ Burns explained. ‘We're limited because of the study design, but it could suggest that maintaining fitness may have a beneficial effect on the Alzheimer's disease process.’"