Physical activity boosts brain health

The value of exercise as a key factor in slowing cognitive decline – and therefore being an effective treatment option for people suffering from dementia – has recently been highlighted.

Numerous studies, presented at the first Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Berlin, support this notion, maintaining that regular physical activity helps to improve cognitive and functional performance in dementia patients.

Exercise has also proven to be beneficial in improving mental wellbeing and in reducing depression. These claims are based on the results of a recent trial in which a group of patients suffering from mild to moderate dementia participated in a serious of tests designed to monitor problem solving and functional ability. A segment of the patients took part in an exercise program, and of all the participants those who engaged in regular exercise performed significantly better. Dr Kristian Steen Frederiksen, author of the study, conferred that these results highlight a ‘clear association between exercise and quality of life’ for dementia sufferers.

While these findings report on the positive effect of exercise for suffers of dementia, Frederiksen noted that ‘Alzheimer patients who partook in regular exercise still required nursing-home placement at the same time as inactive sufferers and that there is no evidence that exercise extends the life expectancy of these patients.’

Source: European Academy of Neurology