The hunt is on for volunteers to participate in the next phase of a new university trial, which will attempt to improve the quality of life of people living with Alzheimer’s disease by investigating the link between exercise and memory.
The trial, run by the University of Western Australia (UWA), will test a theory which suggests that an older person can delay the progression of Alzheimer’s by simply extending their daily walk.
UWA team leader research assistant, Professor Kay Cox, believes that the “Australian-first” study will reap positive benefits for people living with the disease and their carers, regardless of the results.
"The study hopes to show that those who participate in the 24-week program of physical activity will experience significantly less memory loss by the end of the program than participants who continue with their usual exercise activity,” said Professor Cox.
Around 100 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, living in the community, are needed to participate in the trial that will be conducted in both Melbourne and Perth.
An ideal participant, according to Professor Cox, is “someone who has just been newly diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, who is relatively healthy without any other serious diseases which could impair their ability to do physical activity".
The study also incorporates the role of the carer- be they a relative or friend of the person living with Alzheimer's or community care staff.
“Participation in this study is so important so we can see [the effect] of an increase in physical activity for Australians who have this condition and the strategies that work for them.
“It’s critical really. We need to have enough people in the study to demonstrate if [more] exercise does have a positive effect on Alzheimer’s and if it doesn’t, then we need the evidence.…It is critical to take this research further.”
Participants will be expected to do up to 150 minutes of moderate walking per week, cognitive and health and fitness tests at the start of the program and at follow-ups each six months for one year.
“People [living with Alzheimer’s] will put their hand up for a variety of reasons. They will be positive about wanting to improve their own quality of life and feel that their involvement will also help somebody else.”
For more information call 08 9224 0242 for the Perth-based program, or 03 8387 2305 for the Melbourne-based program.