A study out today claims walking for two and a half hours a week can significantly improve memory problems in over 50’s.
The study was led by Professor Nicola Lautenschlager, Chair of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, and is published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Fitness for the Ageing Brain study was conducted over 18 months at the University of Western Australia, and is believed to be the first to prove moderate exercise can positively affect cognitive function.
Professor Lautenschlager says, “the improvement in memory occurred not only during the six month trial but also six and 12 months after completion of the supervised physical activity program.
“We have known for a long time that exercise is a great way to improve cardiovascular health, but it may be that in the future exercise can also be recommended to protect against the ageing brain".
The trial divided 170 people with memory problems who did not meet dementia criteria into two groups, with one going about their normal day and the other averaging over 20 minutes extra exercise per day.
By the end of the study participants in the exercise group performed better on cognitive tests, had better delayed recall, and lower Clinical Dementia Rating scores.
More than 26 million people worldwide have dementia. This is expected to grow to 106.2 million worldwide by 2050.
Professor Lautenschlager argues that if the onset of dementia could be delayed by 12 months there would be 9.2 million fewer cases worldwide.
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