Can exercise prevent cognitive decline?
Behrman S., Ebmeier KP.
As the tolerability of pharmacological agents decreases with age, exercise may be particularly helpful as a possible treatment or stabiliser of mood and cognitive function in older age. Exercise has been most commonly evaluated for the treatment of depression. Exercise interventions designed primarily for treatment of physical conditions in the elderly do appear to confer psychological benefits as well, with reduction in depressive symptoms over the course of treatment. The effects of exercise on reducing depressive symptoms are not dissimilar to the effects of antidepressant drugs and cognitive behaviour therapy. Exercise may be a useful low-tech intervention for people with mild to moderate depression. In particular, exercise may be helpful in the elderly and in patients who have had insufficient response to, or are intolerant of, pharmacotherapy. Mastery of a new skill and positive feedback from others may increase feelings of self-esteem and improve mood. Exercise may distract participants from persistent negative thoughts. Exercise has been shown to improve executive function acutely in adults of all ages. It is possible that dance routines or other exercise regimens requiring some cognitive input may confer additional benefit to cognitive function. Exercise has a moderate effect on the ability of people with dementia to perform activities of daily living and may improve cognitive function. Midlife exercise may also have an impact on later cognitive function.