*Updated: 10/2016 The information in this post has been updated to reflect more recent data.
More and more studies are showing a relationship between exercise and dementia risk. New results from clinical trials were reported recently at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference held in Toronto. Three studies noted a reduced risk factor when targeted exercise was implemented as part of a regimen. The first study from the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, Korea noted that a combination of regular exercise and education may improve the risk of cortical thinning in the brain. “Cortical thickness might be a tool for detecting subtle changes in brain atrophy in screening of dementia.”
Exercise and Dementia
The second study from the National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan examined the relationship between physical activity and cognitive function, in particular the effect of walking. Those older adults who walked 150 minutes a week or more showed “protective effect on decline of global cognition and logic memory.”
The third study from Western University of Ontario, Canada looked at multi-modality physical exercise and how it improved gait in older adults with some memory complaints. They wanted to explore this further because evidence suggests that a decline in gait is attributed to cognitive impairment, most commonly in older adults. The conclusion of their findings was physical exercise, with the addition of balance exercises, definitely improved gait.
Physical exercise appears to have a strong impact on brain health, so get up and get moving! Even though the benefits of physical exercise are many, it is important to talk to your primary care physician before starting a regimen to ensure your choice of activity will be a good fit. To achieve a safe and balanced exercise program, consult your doctor and/or a physical or occupational therapist. The bottom line? Exercise is good for everybody… Especially older adults at risk for MCI (mild cognitive impairment).