How does sport affect the development of dementia?
For a long time, it was said that increased activity and movement can protect against dementia and slow it down. However, researchers have now found that moderate to intensive athletic training does not help patients with dementia, but can actually worsen the disease.
In their current study, the scientists from the internationally recognized University of Oxford found that moderate to intensive sporting activities cannot protect against dementia. It is even possible that the disease is exacerbated by the activities. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "British Medical Journal" (BMJ).
Moderate to intensive training can increase dementia
Regular exercise and an active life should help prevent or delay dementia. There have already been a few small studies that have found such a connection. "If dementia has already developed, physical activity and movement can no longer slow its progress," write the experts in the study report. “Moderate to intensive training does not help people with dementia and can make the disease even worse,” said the basic tenor. In their current investigation, the doctors found that sporting exercises did not help to slow the progress of the disease.
Results weren't a surprise
"The results were disappointing, but not a real surprise," said study author Professor Sarah Lamb from the Nuffield Department of Orthopedics Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences at Oxford University. "Dementia is a very difficult problem to solve," added the expert.
Study had nearly 500 participants
Almost 500 dementia patients took part in the current study. Of these, 329 subjects were assigned to physical fitness training. 165 patients received the usual treatment for the disease. The participants, who exercised physically over a period of four months, carried out two training units per week, each lasting 60 to 90 minutes, explain the doctors. The exercises carried out included cycling and the use of dumbbells and weight belts. The subjects were also asked to do another hour of exercise a week at home.
Exercise did not slow the disease down
The results showed that those who ran the training program had poorer cognitive values than those who did not. The training made the participants physically fitter, but sport did not slow the progress of the disease.
Light training is beneficial
"The results should not prevent people with dementia from going for walks, swimming or other light sports activities," explains Professor Lamb. Sick people should not lose hope now. In addition, light training is quite advantageous. "So people affected shouldn't stop doing such activities," the researchers say. Special exercise programs were used in the study.
The results are very important
The results are extremely important for people with dementia and the NHS. The search for effective lifestyle interventions that can delay cognitive decline in dementia must continue, the experts explain. The observed deterioration in cognitive functions is also very important. Although this was just a tiny deterioration in cognitive performance that would not have been noticeable in a single patient, they differed statistically significantly.
People with lower incomes have an increased risk of dementia
A second study found that people with lower incomes were at higher risk of dementia compared to wealthy people. The results of this investigation were published in the journal "JAMA Psychiatry". For this study, researchers from University College London looked at the data from 6,000 adults born between 1902 and 1943. They found that the 20 percent of the most financially disadvantaged participants were 50 percent more likely to develop dementia compared to the 20 percent of the wealthiest subjects.
The study confirms that the risk of dementia in wealthy older people is reduced compared to people who have less economic resources, said study author Professor Andrew Steptoe from University College London. Many factors could be involved in the result. Differences regarding a healthy lifestyle and medical risk factors are relevant. It may also be that better-off people have greater social and cultural opportunities that enable them to stay actively in touch with the world. (as)