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Exercise May Help Prevent Age-Related Memory Loss
Date:9/2/2008

Moderate weekly activity showed benefits even a year after routine was stopped, study says

TUESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise may help treat memory problems in adults, according to new research from Australia.

The study, focused on 138 people age 50 and older at increased risk for dementia, found that a home-based physical activity program led to modest improvements in cognitive function in adults with memory difficulties.

The participants -- who had memory problems but didn't meet criteria for dementia -- were randomly assigned to do the 24-week home-based physical activity program or to receive usual care.

Those in the exercise group were encouraged to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week in three 50-minute sessions. Walking was the most frequently recommended type of activity. Participants in the exercise group did an average of 142 minutes more physical activity per week, or 20 minutes more per day, than those in the usual care group.

Over 18 months, participants in the exercise group had better Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog) scores and delayed recall, and lower Clinical Dementia Rating scores, than those in the usual care group. The ADAS-Cog consists of a number of cognitive tests.

The findings were published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"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 benefits of physical activity were apparent after six months and persisted for at least another 12 months after the intervention had been discontinued. The average improvement of 0.69 points on the ADAS-Cog score compared with the usual care group at 18 months is small but potentially important when one considers the relatively modest amount
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