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Exercise could help ward off memory decline in older people

Older people who already have memory and thinking problems could benefit from exercise, say researchers

Older people who already have memory and thinking problems could benefit from exercise, say researchers who studied 70 people with vascular dementia. 


The study found that those who exercised showed an
improvement in overall thinking skills. Picture: iStock

Half took part in 1-hour exercise classes 3 times a week for 6 months, while the other half received information every month about vascular cognitive impairment and a healthy diet, but no information on physical activity. 

At the start and end of the study, and again 6 months later, all of the study participants were tested on their overall thinking skills, executive function (such as planning and organising) and how well they could complete daily activities. 

Improvement 

The researchers found that those who had exercised showed a small improvement in overall thinking skills compared to those who did not. 

However, 6 months after the participants stopped the exercise programme their scores were no different to those who did not exercise. 

Alzheimer’s Society research and development director Doug Brown said: ‘We know that keeping active is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia.

‘This study goes further, suggesting that frequent exercise provides modest improvements in memory and thinking for people who already have vascular dementia.’ 


Liu-Ambrose T et al (2016) Aerobic exercise and vascular cognitive impairment. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology. doi: http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1212/​WNL.​0000000000003332 

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