There are certain conditions of unknown origin which lead to deterioration of cognitive (high-level brain functions including the ability to learn and remember information; organize, plan, focus and do problem-solving), emotional and behavioral function of affected individuals. These disorders result in a progressive deterioration of the ability to perform activities for daily living. At present, there are no curative therapies available for many of these conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which affect brain functions. It is believed that regular exercise may reduce the risk or delay the onset of these conditions in the elderly and that. it could represent an important and effective protective factor for cognitive mental function decline and dementia in elderly people.1
According to a study by American researchers, people aged 65 years and older who did moderate exercise had a significantly reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The study revealed that just 15 minutes of exercise three times a week will lower the risk of developing dementia by 30–40%.2
A more recent study released at the 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Chicago showed that people with early Alzheimer’s who exercised regularly has less deterioration in the areas of the brain which control memory.3 Exercise may protect against dementia and declining brain function by improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain cells and tissues, inducing cell growth in the brain.
- Laurin D, Verreault R, Lindsay J, MacPherson K, Rockwood K. Physical Activity and Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Elderly Persons. Arch Neurol. 2001; 58(3): 498–504.
- Larson EB, Wang L, Bowen JD, McCormick WC, Teri L, et al. Exercise Is Associated with Reduced Risk for Incident Dementia Among Persons 65 Years of Age and Older. Ann Intern Med. 2006; 144(2): 73–81.
- Exercise Slows Alzheimer’s Brain Atrophy. Available online at: http://www2.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2008-07/28/content_6882170.htm. Accessed on: 12 Jan 09.