Exercise as it relates to Disease/Physical Activity Effects on Prevention and Treatment of Dementia in Older Adults

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This is an analysis of the journal article "A Prospective Examination of the Relationship between Physical Activity and Dementia Risk in Later Life" by Bowen M. E PhD (2012)[1]

Created by u3080751

Background to the Research[edit]


Dementia can be defined as not one specific disease, but a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia as a whole is characterized by a decline in the brains ability to retain memory, loss of spatial and social skills, brain cognition, language and judgement. Some common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.[2] Dementia in itself is not a natural process of aging, although the effects of it are more common with increasing age. Dementia is highly prevalent in Australia, and in 2015 it was found that over 340,000 people were diagnosed with the disease, with numbers expecting to rise to around 900,000 by 2050.[3]

Emerging evidence shows that being physically active could improve cerebral perfusion and increase neurogenesis, which would reduce the risk of developing dementia.[4] It has been found that around 13% of cases were resulting from physical inactivity. Many studies generally propose that participation in physical activity throughout life can promote physiological health, maintain and/or improve cardiovascular health, and most significant in relation to the onset of dementia; prevent or slow down cognitive decline and the development of the many symptoms associated.[5][6][7]

The Current Study[edit]

Where is the Research from?[edit]

This community based study was conducted at the Research Center of Excellence at the James A. Haley Hospital in Tampa Florida in July/August 2012.[1]

What kind of research was this?[edit]

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between vigorous physical activity and dementia risk. The subjects used were community based from that region. The demographic of the individuals tested were aged 71 and over, with 3–7 years of physical activity prior to dementia/no dementia diagnosis.[1]

What did the research involve?[edit]

The participants had their physical activity levels measured across an array of leisure activities such as swimming, aerobics, running, housework, and bicycling. Neuropsychological tests were then carried out by an expert panel (consisting of neuropsychologists, neurologists and geropsychiatrists) to determine the presence of dementia.[1] Demographic characteristics were also recorded such as lifestyle habits, health indicators and health conditions existing prior to the study.

What were the basic results?[edit]

The purpose of this study was to determine whether there was a correlation between physical activity and dementia risk. The ensuing results showed a relationship between vigourous physical activity and dementia risk was present. Data showed that older adults who were physically active were 21% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than their more sedentary counterparts.[1] This relationship remained constant when considering other factors of the demographic such as lifestyle choices e.g smoking and drinking.

Conclusions from the research[edit]

Independent of external factors, it is shown that vigorous activity has a direct correlation with reduced risk for dementia. This study is invaluable due to the fact that it considers other factors as well, and has found that a correlation is present.

Practical advice[edit]

In a practical setting it is important for anyone undertaking physical activity to assess what limitations are present to exercise. Completing an Adult pre-exercise screening tool should be of utmost importance before commencing activity.[8] Further advice to exercise is to not perform vigorous activity immediately, but rather to slowly increase physical activity overtime to avoid injury or other problems.[9]

It is important to take into account the benefits of physical activity as a whole lifestyle on the onset of dementia. Multiple studies show that the odds of dementia decrease through regular activity day to day, and a study by H. Petrovich shows that higher levels of physical activity earlier in life can lead to dramatically lowered risk of dementia, in particular Alzheimer's disease, later in life.[1][5][10]

With these studies yielding these results, it is imperative that physical activity is encouraged to be undertaken for both young and old individuals.

Further readings and information[edit]

Dementia is a wide and very prominent disease, so for further information on the disease and how to detect the onset of dementia, follow the links below:

Reference List[edit]

  1. a b c d e f Bowen M E, A Prospective Examination of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Dementia Risk in Later Life. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2012 July/August; Volume 26 (Issue 6): Pages 333-340
  2. Alzeimer’s Australia. What is Dementia [Internet]. 2005 [cited 2016 September 26th]. Available from: http://www.fightdementia.org.au/understanding-dementia/what-is-dementia.aspx
  3. Authoritative information and statistics to promote better health and wellbeing - the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare 2016 [Internet], http://www.aihw.gov.au/dementia/
  4. de Bruijn,Renée F A G., et al. The Association between Physical Activity and Dementia in an Elderly Population: The Rotterdam Study. European journal of epidemiology. 2013 [cited 2016 September 27]; Volume 28 (Issue 3): Pages 277-83
  5. a b Petrovich H. Leisure-time Physical Activity at Midlife and the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. The Lancet Neurology. 2005 November; Volume 4 (Issue 11); Pages 705-711
  6. Larson, E.B., Wang, L., Bowen, J.D., McCormick, W.C., Teri, L., Crane, P. and Kukull, W., 2006. Exercise is associated with reduced risk for incident dementia among persons 65 years of age and older. Annals of internal medicine, 144(2), pp.73-81.
  7. Rockwood, K. and Middleton, L., 2007. Physical activity and the maintenance of cognitive function. Alzheimer's & Dementia, pp.38-S44.
  8. ESSA, SMA & Fitness Australia. Adult Pre-exercise Screening System. https://www.essa.org.au/for-gps/adult-pre-exercise-screening-system/
  9. PD Thompson et al. Atherosclerosis andExercise and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease. J Am Heart Assoc 2003; 107(24)
  10. Farrow M, Ellis K. Physical Activity for Brain Health and Fighting Dementia . Alzeihmer’s Australia Paper 36. 2013 Alzeihmer’s Australia: Canberra