Which of the following can improve cognitive abilities in dementia patients?
- Increasing Sleep
- Aerobic Exercise
Answer: Aerobic Exercise
In a recent clinical trial 70 adults suffering from mild subcortical ischemic vascular cognitive impairment (SIVCI) where randomly selected to either receive the usual care or participate in an exercise program. The program consisted of a one hour aerobic exercise session three times a week. The session consisted of a 10 minute warm-up, 40 minutes of training, and a 10 minute cool-down period. The intensity of the sessions gradually progressed. “At the end of the [trial], the aerobic exercise training group had significantly improved ADAS-Cog performance compared with the usual care plus education group.” To read more of the clinical trial click here. To review the results click here.
The benefits of exercise are already well documented to:
- Control/Lose Weight
- Boost energy
- Improve mood
- Decrease risk of cardiovascular disease
- Promote better sleep
- Improve sex life
Improving brain function can be added to the ever expanding list of benefits attributed to regular exercise. Exercise has, in another study (1), been proven to improve cognitive ability in older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairment.
According to this article in Medical Daily:
“those who engaged in physical activity training exhibited significant improvements in memory and also had more blood flow in the bilateral hippocampi region, which is an area of the brain that becomes vulnerable to damage during aging and in those with dementia”
Cardiovascular fitness is also now believed to improve and even offset declines in cognitive performance. Two separate experiments have proven that increases in cardiovascular fitness results in increased functioning of key aspects of the attentional network of the brain during a cognitively challenging task (2).
The health benefits of exercise are well known. The additional benefits of improving memory and overall brain function is just another reason to get out there and get moving.
* Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program