Physical activity is known to be one of the means of reducing the risk of dementia but a new study has proven that once dementia is installed, physical exercises cannot preclude the loss of cognitive abilities.
Being more active “does not slow cognitive impairment,” concludes the study published in the British Medical Journal.
The study involved about 500 patients with mild to moderate dementia
The research was carried out in England on about 500 patients with a mild to moderate level of dementia, of which 329 had been prescribed to follow a regular physical activity regimen.
Among these generally elderly people (77 years of age on average), one group had to participate in two weekly group sessions of one to one and a half hours fo exercises, plus one hour at home per week, while the other did not.
Exams conducted after six months and a year revealed that the disease progressed approximately in the same adverse manner among both groups.
Apparently, the loss of cognitive abilities was slightly more pronounced in the group who practiced physical activity
Cognitive decline was even slightly more pronounced among athletes, but “the difference, on average, was small and of an uncertain clinical relevance,” the study reported.
“While smaller studies have suggested that exercise can prevent or reverse cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease, this robust and very large study provides the most definitive answer to the role of physical activity in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease,” commented physiotherapist Brendon Stubbs.
“The search for effective lifestyle interventions that can delay cognitive impairment in dementia must continue,” said the King’s College researcher, quoted by Science Media Centre.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50 million people suffer from dementia, two-thirds of them suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Even more, approximately 10 million new cases are registered on an annual basis.