There may be new hope for people exhibiting early signs of dementia – a new study has found that exercise may help slow the progression of the disease. Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada tracked 70 participants with an average age of 74 who suffered mild vascular cognitive impairment (the second most common cause of dementia).
Half of the group attended a one-hour exercise class three times a week over six months, while the other half were given information each month about their impairment and the importance of healthy eating but no specific guidance regarding exercise.
The results were promising – those who exercised improved their overall thinking skills by 1.7 points compared to those who did not exercise. However, upon revisiting the exercise group six months later, researchers discovered the scores were no different to the non-exercise group, suggesting the positive effects of exercise only last as long as the dementia patient stays physically active.
“We already know keeping active, along with a balanced diet, is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia,” Dr Doug Brown from the UK Alzheimer’s Society told the Daily Mail. “This study goes further, suggesting that frequent exercise provides modest improvements in memory and thinking for people who already have vascular dementia.”