Aerobic and resistance exercises can improve thinking skills of the over 50s

Researchers reviewed 39 studies published up to the end of 2016 to assess the potential impact of varying types, intensities, and durations of exercise on the brain health of the over 50s | Alzheimer’s Society


Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

‘The benefits of regular exercise to keep a sharp mind are becoming clearer. Previous studies show that people who exercise are less likely to develop dementia, but more research is needed to find out exactly what type and how much exercise is best to help reduce your risk of the condition.’

‘In this study, researchers reviewed results from 39 trials of people in their 50s who were given supervised exercise programmes. Taking up moderate or vigorous exercise improved people’s performance on tests of thinking skills, but the study didn’t look at whether this reduced their likelihood of developing dementia.’

Read the original research article here

Dance movement therapy for dementia

Karkou, V & Meekums, B. (2017) Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 2. Art. No.: CD011022

dancing-1485694_960_720.jpgBackground: Dementia is a collective name for different degenerative brain syndromes which, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, affects approximately 35.6 million people worldwide. The latest NICE guideline for dementia highlights the value of diverse treatment options for the different stages and symptoms of dementia including non-pharmacological treatments. Relevant literature also argues for the value of interventions that acknowledge the complexity of the condition and address the person as a whole, including their physical, emotional, social and cognitive processes.

At the same time, there is growing literature that highlights the capacity of the arts and embodied practices to address this complexity. Dance movement therapy is an embodied psychological intervention that can address complexity and thus, may be useful for people with dementia, but its effectiveness remains unclear.

Read the full systematic review here

Different kinds of physical activity shown to increase brain volume

Alzheimer’s Society


A new study, from UCLA Medical Centre and University of Pittsburgh, suggests that a variety of physical activities, from walking, to gardening and dancing, can increase brain volume.

The research was published today (Friday 11 March) in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers studied 876 patients aged on average 78, across four research sites in the United States. Participants were asked questions about their physical activity habits and had MRI scans of their brains, which were analysed to measure the volumes of brain structures including parts associated with memory and Alzheimer’s disease. The relationship between physical activities, from gardening and dancing to riding an exercise bike at the gym, were compared to the brain’s volume.

The results of the analysis suggested that increasing physical activity was associated with increases in the volume of certain parts of the brain.

Read the original research article here

Read the commentary here

Aerobic Exercise for Improvement / Preservation of Cognitive Function?

It is widely believed that physical activity supports healthy ageing and helps to prevent cognitive decline, perhaps as a result of improving cardio-respiratory fitness. This systematic review examined the evidence concerning any beneficial influence(s) of aerobic exercise in improving cognitive functioning in older people without cognitive impairment. Twelve trials including 754 participants were considered. There was no discernible benefit from aerobic exercise in any domain of cognitive performance in cognitively healthy older adults, even when the intervention(s) did improve cardio-respiratory fitness.

Young, J. Angevaren, M. [and] Rusted, J. [et al] (2015). Aerobic exercise to improve cognitive function in older people without known cognitive impairment. The Cochrane database of Systematic Reviews. April 22nd 2015