Ask the doctor: Can exercising ward off Alzheimer's disease or dementia?

Published: January, 2014

Q. Can exercising ward off Alzheimer's disease or dementia?

A. There is pretty strong evidence that regular exercise in people without dementia reduces (but does not eliminate) the risk of cognitive decline and dementia as we age. Several randomized clinical trials of regular exercise report a protective effect on cognitive function. When benefits from a particular behavior are reported, doctors tend to be more inclined to believe the result if they know of a biological mechanism that could explain it. Brain imaging has found somewhat larger volumes of brain tissue, particularly in the parts of the brain essential to memory, among people who exercise regularly.

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