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Chemist Direct finds mental stimulation through brain training is less effective against dementia than moderate exercise

  (May 28, 2014)
Chemist Direct finds mental stimulation through brain training is less effective against dementia than moderate exercise

(PRWEB UK) 28 May 2014

Aging shrinks the brains usability at a rate of 1 per cent each year, causing confusion, forgetfulness and eventually dementia for over 800,000 people over the age of 60 in the UK alone. Studies on the benefits of regular daily exercise showed a surprising number of older patients decrease this risk by doubling their mental health. Other markers of healthy habits were not factored into most of these studies so the effect of smoking or excessive drinking are not fully known.

Exercise may benefit older people with dementia by improving their cognitive functioning and ability to carry out everyday activities, according to a new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. However, the authors of the review did not see any clear effect of exercise on depression in older people with dementia and say that more evidence is needed to understand how exercise could reduce the burden on family caregivers and health systems.

Dorothy Forbes, an Associate Professor of Nursing who works at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta said, The data from eight trials involving 329 people showed that exercise could improve cognitive functioning and further data from six follow up studies involving 289 people showed that exercise could improve the ability of older people with dementia to carry out daily activities, such as walking short distances or getting up from a chair.

Prof Clive Ballard, Professor of Age Related Disease at Kings College London, is leading a study investigating the long-term impact of brain training on older people recording its effectiveness. He said many people instinctively believed that the best way to protect their brain was by exercising it with mental strategy games, brain teasers or commercial brain-training games. But he said those who wanted the best chance of staving off dementia should opt for a run or a brisk walk rather than invest much hope in brain training and puzzles.

The project has already found that such puzzles appear to have little short-term impact on the brain. More than 11,000 people used commercial brain-training games like the Nintendo DS for six weeks as part of a nationwide experiment published in the journal Alzheimers and Dementia . Prof Ballards current research is investigating whether the games had any long-term impact in helping older people to maintain brain skills as they aged. They found that show that on a range of tests, the volunteers did no better than a control group who had spent a similar amount of time simply surfing the internet.

It also followed a 35-year study by Cardiff University which looked at the impact of five lifestyle behaviours on dementia and cognitive decline. The research found that those who achieved four out of five healthy behaviours - regular exercise, non-smoking, low weight, healthy diet and low alcohol intake - had a 60 per cent decline in dementia and cognitive decline. The research, the longest study of its kind, found that of all the factors, regular exercise had the greatest impact reducing the chances of dementia.

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