Can exercise improve memory and reduce the risk of Dementia in older inactive adults?

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Posted on July 18, 2013

A new study will investigate the impact of exercise on older, inactive adults to see whether it can improve memory and reduce the risk of developing Dementia.

The study is led by Professor Nicola Lautenschlager of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry and will be conducted at the National Ageing Research Institute.

“This study will help us to find out how best to inspire older adults with memory concerns to become and keep physically active to see if it can improve memory and reduce the risk of Dementia,” Professor Lautenschlager said.

More than 321,600 Australians live with Dementia. The most common cause of Dementia in Australia is Alzheimer’s Disease.

It has been estimated that up to 13 per cent of all cases of Alzheimer’s Disease could be prevented if inactive people became physically active.

This study will include the use of mentors to help participants achieve their physical goals.

“We want to help people overcome any barriers to increasing physical activity by providing support from a mentor from a similar age group,” Professor Lautenschlager said.

Researchers are seeking 240 Victorian participants (160 inactive older people and 80 volunteer mentors) for the three-year study.  Inactive participants must currently do less than 30 minutes of leisure physical activity a week. Mentors must currently undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Volunteer mentors aged between 50 and 85yrs will be paired with physically inactive participants (60 and 80yrs), who have concerns about their memory, to help them achieve their individual physical activity goals over a six months period. The study duration per participant is 18 months.

Professor David Ames, Director of the National Ageing Research Institute, a co investigator on the study said Dementia was a debilitating condition for many thousands of Australians.

“We would like to reduce the risk for Australia’s aged population,” he said.

“This study could help further show the significance of an active lifestyle in reducing that risk.”

Collaborators on the study include the University of Western Australia and Bangor University, UK.

Source: University of Melbourne