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Exercise May Boost Memory Function in Older Adults

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, September 02, 2008 11:05 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Exercise, Memory, Elderly, Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Memory Function


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / senior couple on cycle ride / author: monkeybusinessimages

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows regular to moderate exercise can help boost memory function in older people while preventing the onset of dementia.

The study involved 140 participants that were 50 or older with an increased risk of dementia and self-reported memory difficulties, but not enough to meet the criteria for dementia.

Study participants were randomly assigned to participate in a 24-week home-based physical activity program, while the rest were put in the usual care group.

Those in the exercise group participated in moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or bike riding, for 150 minutes three times a week, while the other group did not exercise.

Memory tests and a host of other tests such as a memory recall test were given to both groups after six months. Those who were in the exercise group fared better results than those who in the usual care group.

Over 18 months, the exercise group scored better on ADAS-Cog tests – a series of cognitive tests. And also on delayed recall.

Lower Clinical Dementia Rating scores were also seen in the exercise group than those in the usual care group.

“This is the first study to show that exercise helps to improve mild cognitive function (MCI) in older adults,” said Dr. Nicola T. Lautenschlager, of the University of Melbourne.

The benefits of exercising were seen after six months and continued up to twelve months after the mediation had stopped.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 37 million people worldwide live with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for about 5 million of those cases.

Over the next twenty years that number is expected to increase dramatically. Researchers are searching for new ways to delay the onset of dementia.

Another recent study found, those who have symptoms of Alzheimer's and who exercise regularly have four times less brain shrinkage than those who do not hit the pavement.

The study appears in the journal Neurology. #

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