Moving more in old age may protect brain from dementia – Alzheimer’s Society comments. 

A study by Rush University Medical Centre, published today in Neurology, suggests that older adults who move more than average – either in the form of daily exercise or just routine physical activity such as housework – may maintain more of their memory and thinking skills than people who are less active than average. This was found to be the case even if a person has brain lesions or biomarkers linked to dementia.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, says: ‘What’s fascinating about this research is that it suggests physical activity might not slow down dementia related changes in the brain, but could help the brain cope with these changes. Exercise might help by strengthening the connections between brain-cells – referred to as cognitive reserve – which makes our brain more resilient to the changes that cause cognitive decline.

‘The link between exercising and lowering your risk is becoming more and more established, but the question we need to answer now is how to help people incorporate more activity into their daily lives. This is why we have campaigned hard to have NHS mid-life health checks include recommendations on dementia risk reduction. For anyone concerned about keeping their brains healthy in later life, we encourage eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, and getting that step count up.’