Mild memory loss is a normal part of aging, but there is a big difference between normal aging and dementia symptoms. Early prevention is very important, but treatment of dementia is also a big concern. What do these two have in common? The fact that exercise helps with both prevention and treatment.
Exercise in prevention
Exercise is one of the best ways of preventing the development of dementia later in life. In healthy individuals, spatial memory, visuospatial function, and enhanced well-being is improved in those who regularly take part in physical activity. Furthermore, those who exercise regularly are shown to have improved cardiovascular health, reduced falls, enhanced physical function, reduced depression, and enhanced well-being.
Exercise in treatment
People with Alzheimer disease benefit from increasing levels of physical activity through habitual exercise. Physical exercise helps improve behavioral and cognitive alterations with spatial memory. Studies have also demonstrated that patients temporarily display an improvement of cognitive functions. More research is needed, however, to determine long term effects of exercise in patients with dementia. For now, even improvement in cognitive and motor functions for a short amount of time is better than having nothing done to treat dementia. Improvements in motor control and behavior have also been observed after exercise in a group of people with Alzheimer Disease.