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Study: Movement effective against dementia


Study showed that exercise prevents dementia
A new study has shown how important sport and exercise are for maintaining mental fitness in old age. An improvement in physical fitness could halt or at least slow the progression of an onset dementia.

  • More and more people suffer from dementia
  • Physical activity was examined as a possible therapy for the onset of dementia
  • Sport and exercise are important for maintaining mental fitness in old age
  • Physically fit people with better cognitive performance

Effective against dementia: sport and exercise for maintaining mental fitness

Around 1.6 million people in Germany suffer from dementia. By 2030, more than 74 million patients worldwide will be affected by the neurodegenerative disease. A key risk factor in developing dementia earlier is physical inactivity. Exercise is of paramount importance for maintaining mental fitness in old age. Researchers have now found that out.

Physical inactivity is a risk factor

According to the German Alzheimer's Association, almost 1.6 million people with dementia currently live in this country; two thirds of them are affected by Alzheimer's disease.

However, it has been shown for years that the number of people with dementia continues to increase - and not only in Germany.

Due to the demographic development, experts assume that by 2030 more than 74 million people worldwide will suffer from dementia.

A key risk factor in developing dementia earlier is physical inactivity. Sports and exercise, however, are effective against the neurodegenerative disease, as researchers now report.

Prevent Alzheimer's

Dementia has not yet been curable, but according to health experts it is possible to prevent Alzheimer's by taking certain measures.

The Alzheimer Research Initiative (AFI) gives five recommendations for healthy aging in the brochure "Preventing Alzheimer's: Living Healthy - Aging Healthy".

The experts advise keeping the brain fit through mental training, eating a healthy diet, maintaining social contacts, taking medical precautions against risk factors and getting enough exercise.

Protection from dementia

Scientific studies have shown that sport can protect against dementia.

For example, researchers from Sweden recently reported a study that physical fitness effectively protects against dementia.

Scientists from Germany now also want to investigate how exercise affects the neurodegenerative disease.

Effective therapy for the first signs of age-related dementia

The first signs of dementia are often shown by slight cognitive impairments and memory problems.

A team of researchers from the German Sport University Cologne would like to find out whether physical activity and fitness are effective therapy for the first signs of age-related dementia.

An initial analysis of the relationship between activity, fitness and mental performance provides evidence for this.

Individuals with incipient cognitive impairments were examined

According to a statement from the university, 121 people with incipient cognitive impairments were examined.

Depending on the severity of the cognitive impairment, it was assigned to one of three groups; a distinction was made between subjective, early and manifest impairment.

The participants were asked about their movement behavior and also equipped with activity monitors to objectively record their movement in everyday life. In addition, a fitness test was carried out on the bicycle ergometer.

Sport and exercise for maintaining mental fitness

The results published in the journal "Journal of Alzheimer's Disease" are promising: The fitter the participants were and the more they moved about in everyday life, the better their cognitive performance.

The data clearly show how important sport and exercise are for maintaining mental fitness in old age.

The further course of the study is now to show whether the actual state when dementia begins is decisive for further development, or whether the progress of an incipient dementia disease can be stopped or at least slowed down by improving physical fitness. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: How Alzheimers Changes the Brain (August 2020).