According to the study published in the September 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2008;300:1027-1037, 1077-1079.), results of a randomized trial in older adults with subjective memory impairment but without dementia show a "modest" but lasting improvement in cognitive function after a 6-month program of physical activity.
"To our knowledge, this trial is the first to demonstrate that exercise improves cognitive function in older adults with subjective and objective mild cognitive impairment," the researchers, led by Nicola T. Lautenschlager, MD, from the University of Melbourne and St. Vincent's Hospital, in Australia, conclude. "The benefits of physical activity were apparent after 6 months and persisted for at least another 12 months after the intervention had been discontinued."
Their results are interesting given the relatively modest increase in physical activity, amounting to about 142 extra minutes per week, or 20 minutes per day, they note.
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In an editorial accompanying the paper, Eric B. Larson, MD, from the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington, points out that the trial by Lautenschlager et al, "using rigorous methods, makes the important contribution of 'proof of concept' by establishing that a relatively small dose of habitual exercise modestly improved cognition relative to placebo and therefore has the potential to help prevent Alzheimer's disease."
Although adherence to exercise is among the lowest of any commonly recommended preventive health strategies, he notes, "the widespread fear of Alzheimer's disease and other catastrophic brain diseases may help motivate older individuals and society to become more physically active."
Health advances in the past century have meant more people are surviving to extreme old age, where their risk of AD and dementia increase substantially, Dr. Larson adds. "Exercise - and possibly other lifestyle factors - appear to affect vascular risk and late-life brain health," he concludes. "In addition to traditional medical approaches to prevent this dreaded disease, social factors such as providing universal education, general medical care, a suitable environment, adequate nutrition, habitual exercise, and opportunities for continued social interactions throughout the lifespan may also contribute significantly to improve well-being in late life."
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In my opinion, continued regular chiropractic care also can improve, prevent and delay the dementia by increasing the frequency of firing to the brain. Chiropractic adjustments are more powerful effect on the depressed brain than regular exercise. Those with Alzheimer's disease or high risk can get the great benefits from the chiropractic care with adequate nutrition and habitual exercise.
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Yong H. Kim, DC, DACNB, FABES, FIAMA Dipl.Ac.