Can Exercise Help Curb Dementia? One Study Says No

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To try and resolve this uncertainty, a team of United Kingdom researchers made a decision to estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all cases in the United States, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

While physical exercise may stave off dementia, it does not delay mental decline in people after they've been diagnosed, a study in almost 500 people with the condition reported Thursday.

For the current study, researchers conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial involving 494 people with mild to moderate dementia (average age: 77) living "in the community" (not in nursing homes or other institutional facilities) throughout England.

Exercise has a reputation for helping to keep older people healthy, but a new study has found that playing video games combined with expercise - so-called "exergaming" - could help in the fight to stave off dementia. "It may also be that better off people have greater social and cultural opportunities that allow them to remain actively engaged with the world".

They discovered that the people on the exercise regimen had higher ADAS-cog scores than the people who were on usual care.

Indeed, patients who participated in the exercise programme showed slightly worse scores.

There was no difference between the groups in terms of behaviour, quality of life, ability to carry out everyday tasks or numbers of falls (which can be a cause of injury in people with dementia).

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The researchers said their exercise programme "does not slow cognitive decline in people with mild to moderate dementia".

"These benefits do not, however, translate into improvements in cognitive impairment, activities in daily living, behavior, or health related quality of life".

"It is promising data", said Cay Anderson-Hanley, associate professor of psychology at Union College and the study's lead author.

"We don't want to alarm members of the public with dementia and their families. If people don't do exercise at the moment, whilst we can't recommend doing a vigorous, specialized exercise programme like the one we tested, gentle exercise is our recommendation", said Dr. Lamb exclusively to Tech Times.

It's important to note this does not change what we know about exercise's ability to protect against dementia.

People taking part in RCTs usually do not know whether they're in the treatment or control group, but this was impossible to hide for an exercise study.

A new study published by JAMAPsychiatry has suggested that being less well off in later life could be linked to a higher risk of dementia. It is not much less clear whether exercise can delay the decline of those with an established dementia.

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