Exercise in old age is better prevention for dementia than mental stimulation

October 24, 2012

Source:  BBC & Neurology & Alzheimer’s Society

Follow this link for the abstract: Evidence behind the headline – Gow, A J (2012) Neuroprotective lifestyles and the aging brain activity, atrophy, and white matter integrity, Neurology Vol.79 (17) pp.1802-1808

Date of publication: October 2012

Publication type: paper

In a nutshell: 

Exercising regularly in old age may better protect against brain shrinkage than engaging in mental or social activities, according to a new study published in the journal, Neurology®.

Researchers looked at medical records of 638 people from Scotland born in 1936. The participants were given MRI scans at 73 years old. The group gave details about their exercise habits, ranging from moving only in connection with necessary household chores to keeping fit with heavy exercise or participating in competitive sports several times per week. They also reported their participation in social and mentally stimulating activities.

The study found that after three years, people who participated in more physical activity experienced less brain shrinkage than those who exercised minimally.

Length of publication: 7 pages

Additional documents to support the evidence

2011 Alzheimer’s Society Exercise & physical activity for people with dementia

2010 Alzheimer’s Society Keeping active and staying involved


Cochrane Review supportive of cognitive stimulation therapy for people with dementia

August 1, 2012

Source: Department of Health – Dementia

Follow this link for the Cochrane ReviewCognitive stimulation to improve cognitive functioning in people with dementia (full-text)

Date of publication: February 2012

Publication type: website

In a nutshell: A recent Cochrane review of Cognitive Stimulation has concluded that ‘cognitive stimulation programmes benefit cognition in people with mild to moderate dementia over and above any medication effects.’ CST is starting to be used in community, care home and hospital settings and was also strongly endorsed by the latest World Alzheimers Report.

Simple to run, fun to participate in and cost effective according to an LSE study, CST is starting to benefit people in hospitals, living in care homes and the community.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a psychosocial, evidence-based, group intervention for people with dementia recommended by the UK NICE guidelines.

Length of publication: 81 pages