Can Exercise Ward Off Dementia?
Older people who exercise regularly may reduce their risk of dementia and help keep their minds sharp, a new study suggests.
Physical activity may cut dementia risk by 40 percent and decline of thinking skills by as much as 60 percent, researchers say.
“Over the past three years, this has become a highly consistent finding,” said Dr. Sam Gandy, associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in New York City, who had no part in the study.
“The best thing we can do for ourselves and our patients is to adopt a regular exercise routine,” he said. “This delays or prevents dementia or slows progression so there is some benefit for everyone.”
Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said this study shows some convincing evidence that physical activity in an older population reduces the risk of vascular dementia. Vascular dementia results from reduced blood flow to the brain, typically because of strokes, and may lead to symptoms such as confusion, depression, agitation and problems with memory, attention or decision-making.
“Physical activity is one of the seven key health factors in the American Heart Association’s definition of ideal cardiovascular health, and can also help to reduce stroke and improve brain health,” Sacco said.