UNCG Campus Weekly

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Jennifer Etnier focused on cognitive benefits you get from being physically active

Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, has no known cure. But what if something as simple as regular exercise could impact a person’s genetic risk for the disease?

That’s what Dr. Jennifer Etnier wants to find out. Etnier (Kinesiology) has received a $275,000, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study what preventive strategies may decrease the risk of dementia for a person who has a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s disease. She’s currently recruiting local residents ages 50-65 with that genetic connection to participate in a free exercise program related to her research.

“My research is focused on the cognitive benefits that people get from being physically active,” she said. “I’ve done research with older people, children and college-age adults. Our research consistently shows that there are benefits to be gained from regularly participating in physical activity. I’ve published studies showing benefits for all age groups and we’ve done interventions where we ask people to become physically active and show that they benefit cognitively.”

Her current Alzheimer’s research is designed to find out if the cognitive benefits from becoming physically active differ depending upon a person’s genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Etnier, a professor of sport and exercise psychology, joined the faculty of UNCG is 2004. Earlier, she had been a member of the faculty of Wake Forest University (1995-1998) and Arizona State University (1998-2004).

She frequently discusses her findings related to cognitive ability and physical activity. This summer, she was invited to speak on physical activity and the prevention of dementia at the World Congress on Active Aging.

Full story at UNCG News.

By Lanita Withers Goins