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Can regular exercise help prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia?

While a link to Alzheimer's disease prevention is not proven, mental and physical activity can help maintain good brain health. Watch Lori Boyajian-O'Neill, OD, with HCA Midwest Health, share tips for keeping your mind and body active as you age.
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
Crossword puzzles and other mental exercises are a great way to keep your brain sharp as you age, but a new study suggests that getting physical may be even more protective against Alzheimer's disease. Watch this video featuring Dr. Robin Miller to find out what moves you can make now to help prevent Alzheimer's disease later.
Working out for as little as 15 minutes three days a week reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 40%. A six-year study determined that men and women age 65 and older dramatically lessened their chances of developing the heartbreaking conditions of dementia and Alzheimer’s by regularly exercising.
Several studies suggest that exercise might help ward off Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. A six-year study of 1,740 people ages 65 and older found that people who exercised more than three times a week had a lower risk of dementia than their sedentary counterparts, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Even people who already have early signs of memory problems may benefit from physical activity. In a study in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people in their 50s and older who reported memory problems but did not have dementia were assigned to follow either a home-based exercise program or to receive education and usual care for six months. The exercisers were asked to do at least three 50-minute exercise sessions a week. (Most walked; some did other aerobic exercise or strength training.) At the end of the 18-month follow-up, the exercise group showed modest improvements in cognition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.