Exercise Can Help with Mild Cognitive Impairment

The American Academy of Neurology has come out with a recommendation that people with mild cognitive impairment engage in regular exercise to help improve their condition. Since mild impairment sometimes leads to serious dementia, exercise can ultimately reduce the severity or onset of dementia.

Mild cognitive impairment is quite common in aging people, interfering with thinking and memory skills. Dementia is less common, but more severe, and often seriously interferes with normal daily activities such as eating and dressing. Researchers believe that mild cognitive impairment sometimes leads to dementia.

“It’s exciting that exercise may help improve memory at this stage, as it’s something most people can do, and of course it has overall health benefits,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Ronald Petersen.

Dr. Petersen is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and associated with the Mayo Clinic.

“Because mild cognitive impairment may progress to dementia, it is particularly important that mild cognitive impairment is diagnosed early,” Petersen added.

Researchers have discovered that over 6 percent of people in their 60s and over 37 percent of people 85 and older have mild cognitive impairment.

“If you or others have noticed that you are forgetful and are having trouble with complex tasks, you should see your doctor to be evaluated and not assume that it is just part of normal aging,” Petersen said.

The new guideline, which is endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, says that doctors should advise their patients with mild cognitive impairment to add regular exercise to their schedules. There are no long-term studies showing the benefits, but six-month studies show that memory can benefit from exercising just twice-a-week.