Exercise May Help People With Memory Problems; Will This Cure Alzheimer's Disease?

First Posted: Oct 20, 2016 05:10 AM EDT

There are a lot of health benefits one can get by exercising. Now, a new study, published in the online issue of Neurology, suggests that older people suffering from memory and thinking problems may benefit from exercise, too.

Canadian researchers found that people who exercised showed a bit of improvement on a test of thinking and memory skills compared with those who are not engaged in any kind of physical exercise at all. "We found that three times a week of moderately intense aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, significantly improved cognitive function in older adults with impaired cognitive function due to disease affecting the small blood vessels in the brain, said study author Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PT, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

According to Medical Xpress, the study involved 70 people with an average age of 74 and who was suffering from mild vascular cognitive impairment. Half of the participants were provided with information each month about vascular cognitive impairment and a healthy diet. However, they were not given any information on physical activity.

All the participants were tested before the study, at the end of the study, and six months after the study. Experts examined their overall thinking skills, executive function skills such as planning and organizing and how well they could complete their daily activities. They found that those who exercised had a small improvement on the test, especially in the overall thinking skills than those who did not exercise. The scores of those who exercised improved by 1.7 points compared to those who did not exercise.

Although the improvement in mental function was not very extraordinary, it was similar to that seen in studies that tested drugs for people with the same problem, Liu-Ambrose said. "However, the difference was less than what is considered to be the minimal clinically important difference," she said, according to Web MD.

Dr. Alexandra Foubert-Samier from the Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases at Bordeaux University in France said: "This study found some interesting results concerning the practice of physical activities against cognitive decline, but it must be confirmed by future studies. One must be careful about the scope of the results of this study, although it is encouraging, reported Health Day News. It's possible that physical activities protect against mental decline, but other studies are needed to prove it, added Foubert-Samier, who co-wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

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