Vigorous, regular physical exercise may slow disease progression in Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Apr;19(4):1592-1597. doi: 10.1002/alz.12946. Epub 2023 Feb 1.


Introduction: Mild to moderate exercise may decrease Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk, but the effects of vigorous, regular physical exercise remain unclear.

Methods: Two patients with initial diagnoses of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) demonstrated positive AD biomarkers throughout 16 and 8 years of follow-up, with final diagnoses of mild AD and amnestic MCI, respectively.

Results: Patient 1 was diagnosed with amnestic MCI at age 64. Neuropsychological testing, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), amyloid imaging PET, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers during follow-ups remained consistent with AD. By age 80, progression was minimal with Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) 26 of 30. Patient 2 was diagnosed with amnestic MCI at age 72. Neuropsychological testing, MRI, FDG-PET, and amyloid imaging PET during follow-ups remained consistent with AD. At age 80, MoCA was 27 of 30 with no clinical progression. Both patients regularly performed vigorous, regular exercise that increased after retirement/work reduction.

Discussion: Vigorous, regular exercise may slow disease progression in biomarker-positive amnestic MCI and mild AD.

Keywords: disease progression; mild cognitive impairment; regular physical exercise; vigorous.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Biomarkers
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides