Exercise can have a positive effect on Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia

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Regular physical activity could play a role in protecting the brain from cognitive impairment as well as helping people with dementia to live better, according to research presented yesterday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington.

Three new trials of aerobic exercise in people with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular cognitive impairment and mild cognitive impairment are all reported to have shown positive results.

One trial showed that doing regular exercise helped people with Alzheimer’s disease to better manage behaviours associated with the condition, such as anxiety or irritability. Another found that exercise may reduce levels of the protein tau, a key hallmark of some forms of dementia, in people with mild cognitive impairment. The third found that exercise could benefit people with vascular cognitive impairment and may even help to improve brain function.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walks are a great way to keep active while raising money to fund vital research and services for people living with dementia. Taking place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout September and October, sign up to your nearest walk at www.memorywalk.org.uk

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“We have known for some time that regular exercise can help to reduce your risk of developing dementia but these studies suggest that exercise could also improve the symptoms in people already living with the condition.

“While these studies add to a promising body of evidence, we would need to see the same results replicated in more trials lasting over a longer period of time to better understand the role exercise has for people with dementia. However, what’s good for the heart is good for the head and evidence suggests that making exercise part of your routine is a great way to help.

“Current evidence suggests that adopting a healthy way of life can reduce your risk of dementia, and one way to kick start a healthy lifestyle is by signing up to one of Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walks, taking place this autumn. As well as keeping active, eating a healthy balanced diet and not smoking are also good ways to reduce your risk of dementia.”

Paul Seymour from Bath was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 at the age of 54. He says:

“Exercising regularly really helps me to wind down and focus my thoughts. I’ve always been active, but since I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease I make an extra effort to get out on my bike or take part in outdoor walking events such as Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk.

“I’m still young and despite my Alzheimer’s diagnosis, I’m determined to stay as active as possible for as long as possible.”

 

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