How Exercise May Protect Against Alzheimer’s

By
Photo: Steve Prezant/Corbis

In a recent Reddit AMA, neuroscientist Dena Dubal discussed her fascinating research concerning a hormone dubbed Klotho, named for the fate in Greek mythology who spins the thread of life. People who have high levels of this hormone seem to be protected against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, even when postmortem examinations reveal markers of the disease in their brains. “Something must have protected them,” said Dubal, who researches aging and its impact on the brain at the University of California at San Francisco. “[Klotho] is a longevity hormone that circulates in our body and acts to make tighter, better connections at the synapse, and may partly explain this mystery. It probably optimizes a lot of other brain functions, too.”

When asked if there are any natural ways to increase production of this hormone, Dubal answered in the affirmative:

New findings are showing that lifestyle, as an example, changes klotho levels. A recent study shows that steady EXERCISE over 12 weeks increases klotho significantly. Link: Klotho and exercise article[.] My colleagues and I just discovered that CHRONIC STRESS decreases klotho in young healthy women (unpublished). Lots being done right now to figure out what naturally increases or decreases klotho in the body – and this may provide insights on how to live a longer and healthier life with a sharp mind.

Investigations into the hormone and the way it may protect the brain from the “insults of aging,” as Dubal phrased it, is still in its infancy, and more research needs to be done before we can know anything definitive on the way it impacts cognition. But the early evidence, at least, suggests one more reason to reconsider skipping the gym tonight. 

How Exercise May Protect Against Alzheimer’s