Not a Creature was Stirring

Not a Creature Was Stirring

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . . 1

As we settle into winter, exercise has become more of a challenge not only because of holiday activities and savory treats but also the shortened days and colder weather. Meanwhile our bodies struggle to adapt to all the extra food, the reduction in sunlight and endorphins.  But research is offering a solution: treadmill exercise.

A Japanese study looking at the effect of treadmill exercise on cognitive decline and white matter found that mice who used the treadmill for six weeks had decreased cognitive decline and increased white matter compared to the mice who were sedentary.2

If you are dealing with behavioral disturbances related to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, consider the research findings on physical exercise mitigating behavioral impairments.3 Also a mouse study, this study looked at the role of voluntary physical activity with a level of endurance in lessening behaviors. Mice who did the voluntary physical activity had a decrease in behaviors. Could it be that walking while watching a favorite movie or listening to a preferred playlist provide the endurance for the treadmill? Although the research has started with mice, let’s not hold off on reaping the benefits.

Human subject research looking at exercise’s impact on our brains, shows equally encouraging results for individuals diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment.4 This study looked at the combined impact of physical and cognitive exercise. Weekly 90-minute sessions for 40 weeks showed the group receiving combined cognitive and physical exercise improved or maintained their cognitive status compared to the control group that received a 90-minute health promotion class.

As we settle into our winter routines, let’s avoid playing the role of mouse in The Night Before Christmas but instead be modern mice—mice committed to improving our brains by walking, using the treadmill and strengthening cognition with audio books, podcasts, or favorite movies.


1Moore, C.C., The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (Random House Inc., 1983.

2 Ohtomo, R., Kinoshita, K., Ohtomo, G., Takase, H., Hamanaka, G. et al., (2019).  Treadmill exercise suppresses cognitive decline and increases white matter Oligodendrocyte precursor cells in a mouse model of prolonged cerebral hypoperfusion, Translational Stroke Research, Oct. 12. Doi:10.1007.                             

3Bernardo, T.C., Beleza, J.Rizo-Roca, D.Santos-Alves, E,. Leal, C., et al. (2019). Physical exercise mitigates behavioral impairments in a rat model of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, Behavioral Brain Research, Nov. 13: 112358.

4Shimada H1Makizako H2Doi T2Park H3Tsutsumimoto K2, et al., (2018).  Effects of combined physical and cognitive exercises on cognition and mobility in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A randomized clinical trial, Journal of American Medical Director’s Association, 19(7): 584-591.

Author: Cate
Passionate about dementia care and quality of life throughout the last days of life----sums up Cate McCarty, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach. With close to forty years of long-term care experience in nursing and recreation, a Master's in Thanatology and a PhD in Aging Studies, Dr. Cate seizes every opportunity to translate research into quality of life for individuals with dementia and all of us who have the honor to "rub elbows" with them.

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