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In this study, 17 older adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and 18 healthy older adults (control group) participated in a 12-week exercise program of supervised treadmill walking at moderate intensity. The participants gradually worked up to walking 30 minutes, four times a week, and completed a total of 44 sessions. Both groups participated in pre-intervention tests including an exercise test, memory tests, and a functional magnetic resonance imaging test that measures brain activity.
Both the mild cognitive impairment and control groups experienced significant changes:
The study authors comment, “While these cognitive improvements did not differ statistically between the groups, the quality of the cognitive improvement in [the mild cognitive impairment] participants was remarkable given their history of cognitive decline and likelihood for future cognitive decline.”
The authors conclude that exercise may improve the power of our brain cells and can lead to improvement in brain function and memory. Further research is needed to determine if exercise can help delay further cognitive impairment in people who already have brain impairment.
Research has shown that 40% of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease within a four-year period, according to the study authors. As a result, researchers know that it is very important to identify activities and lifestyle changes that can help these people improve their brain function and optimize their ability to delay further impairment. Here are some brain drainers and boosters to keep in mind when thinking about brain health:
Many medical conditions and medications can affect the way we think. If you experience symptoms of brain impairment such as memory loss, or difficulty thinking, it is important that you see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Also, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
(J Alzheimer’s Dis . 2013 Jan 1;37:197-215. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130467)