New guidelines recommend twice-weekly exercise to improve memory and thinking

A review of available studies showed that regular exercise twice a week can aid in managing the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and even help stave off dementia. — Reuters pic
A review of available studies showed that regular exercise twice a week can aid in managing the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and even help stave off dementia. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Dec 30 — New US guidelines urge patients with mild cognitive impairment to take part in exercise at least twice a week to help manage symptoms and better memory and thinking.

The new guidelines were published online this week in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and on the Mayo Clinic’s website, after the academy’s guideline authors reviewed all available studies.

They found that studies carried out over a six-month period showed that working out just twice a week may help people with mild cognitive impairment to manage their symptoms.

More than six per cent of people in their sixties across the world have mild cognitive impairment; this rises to over 37 per cent of people 85 and older, as the condition becomes more common with age.

Mild cognitive impairment is more serious than the expected cognitive decline of normal aging, with symptoms including problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment.

Although it is generally not severe enough to interfere with daily life, it may increase the risk of later dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions.

Many recent studies found that regular exercise can benefit those with the condition and help stave off dementia.

“Exercising might slow down the rate at which you would progress from mild cognitive impairment to dementia,” commented Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., lead author, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre, Mayo Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic Study of Ageing. “We need not look at aging as a passive process; we can do something about the course of our ageing. So if I’m destined to become cognitively impaired at age 72, I can exercise and push that back to 75 or 78. That’s a big deal.”

Dr Petersen encouraged people to take part in regular aerobic exercise, such as walking briskly or jogging for 150 minutes a week — 30 minutes, five times or 50 minutes, three times—at an intensity which is enough to work up a sweat but while still being able to hold a conversation.

The guidelines, endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, also suggest that health professionals should recommend cognitive training for people with mild cognitive impairment, as there is slight evidence to indicate that it could improve cognitive function.

Cognitive training involves completing repetitive memory and reasoning exercises, individually, in small groups, or on a computer.

The guidelines did not recommend dietary changes or medications. There are currently no drugs for mild cognitive impairment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. — AFP-Relaxnews

Related Articles