For patients with mild cognitive impairment, don’t be surprised if your health care provider rules exercise rather than medication. A new doctor’s guide points out that they should recommend exercise twice a week to patients with mild cognitive impairment to improve memory and thinking.
The recommendations are part of a new guide to light cognitive impairment, published in the December 27 online journal neurology, which is a medical journal of the American academy of neurology.
“Regular physical activity has been proved with heart health benefits, and now we can say that exercise can also help improve memory in patients with mild cognitive dysfunction,” Ronald Petersen, md, PhD, lead author and director of the alzheimer’s disease research center, the Mayo clinic and aging at the Mayo clinic research. “Good for your heart and good for your brain.” Dr. Petersen is professor Cora Kanow of alzheimer’s disease research.
Mild cognitive impairment is the intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and a more severe decline in dementia. Memory, language, thinking and judgment may be more problematic than normal age-related changes.
Generally speaking, these changes are not serious enough to interfere with daily life and daily activities. However, mild cognitive impairment may increase the risk of progression of dementia in alzheimer’s or other neurological diseases. But some people with mild cognitive impairment will never get worse, and some people will eventually get better.
The college’s guide author developed the latest recommendations for mild cognitive impairment after reviewing all available research. A six-month study showed that exercising twice a week can help people with mild cognitive impairment as part of a holistic approach.
Dr. Peterson encourages people to do aerobic exercises: 150 minutes a week, brisk, jogging, whatever you like, 30 minutes, 5 or 50 minutes, three times. The effort should be enough to make you sweat a little, but not so hard that you can’t talk. “Exercise may slow down the progression from mild cognitive dysfunction to dementia,” he said.
Another guideline update says clinicians may recommend cognitive training for patients with mild cognitive impairment. Cognitive training USES repetitive memory and reasoning exercises that can be computer-assisted or can be done by a person or group. There is evidence that cognitive training can improve cognitive function measurements.
Dietary changes or medications are not recommended. The U.S. food and drug administration does not approve drugs for mild cognitive impairment.
According to the American institute of neurology, more than 60% of the worldwide in more than 60 people have mild cognitive dysfunction, and with the growth of the age, the illness is more common. More than 37 percent of people over 85 have it.
With this popularity, finding lifestyle factors that may slow cognitive impairment may have a significant impact on individuals and societies, Dr. Petersen noted.
“We don’t have to think of aging as a passive process, we can do something about aging,” he said. So if I was destined to have cognitive impairment at the age of 72, then I could exercise and push it back to 75 or 78. This is a big deal.
The guidelines, which were approved by the alzheimer’s association, updated the school’s recommendations for mild cognitive impairment in 2001. Dr. Peterson was involved in the development of the first mild cognitive impairment clinical trial, and continued to be a global leader in the study of the disease stage when symptoms could be halted or reversed.