Find out how regular exercise could reduce dementia risk reduce dementia risk alongside physical and mental health benefits.
Recent research has highlighted the benefits of regular exercise for keeping our hearts and brains healthy. The last few months have seen the findings of several studies come out on this topic.
In February, a research paper studied the effects of exercise on people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They found that a routine of aerobic exercise and resistance training improved memory and thinking skills.
Aerobic exercise can be anything that gets your heart pumping, such as a brisk walk, gardening or a dance class. Resistance training includes exercises involving weights or resistance bands.
In March, a study reported that people who were fit in midlife have either a reduced risk or later age of onset of dementia than someone who is less fit. Looking at a group of women who completed a strenuous exercise bike session in the 1960s, when their average age was 50, the researchers followed their medical history until 44 years later. They said that the fitter the women were for the bike test, the later or less likely they were to develop dementia.
The study had some shortcomings. As Dr Tim Shakespeare, our Research Information Manager, said, ‘While the results are promising and provide much needed motivation to get on the exercise bike, it’s important to bear in mind the number of people in this study was small. It also only involved women, so it’s not clear if we’d see the same results in men.’
‘It’s important to bear in mind the number of people in this study was small. It also only involved women, so it’s not clear if we’d see the same results in men.’
Taking regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We know that what is good for your heart is good for your head. Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression, which are major risk factors for dementia. It can also help people with dementia to maintain confidence and improve their thinking skills and sleep. Exercise can also be an opportunity to engage and socialise with other people.
Alzheimer’s Society’s annual Memory Walk takes place this autumn. Memory Walk is a sponsored walk for all ages and abilities to unite together to raise money to defeat dementia.