Active and alert as you age

This week on the show, Beth spoke to Professor Nicola Lautenschlager from the University of Melbourne about her call for volunteers for research into preventing dementia with exercise.

Alzheimer’s disease is the main cause of dementia in older Australians, with more than 321,600 people living with the condition and another 1700 diagnosed every week.

However, clinical research indicates that physical activity can help prevent its onset (see for example Lautenschlager NT, Cox KL, Flicker L, Foster JK, van Bockxmeer FM, Xiao J, Greenop KR & Almeida OP 2008, “Effect of physical activity on cognitive function in older adults at risk for Alzheimer disease: a randomized trial”, Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 300, no.9, pp. 1027-1037, doi:10.1001/jama.300.9.1027).

An aqua aerobics class, with participants in a swimming pool, holding up pool noodles
Use your noodle and exercise (Photo by Tim Ross, via Wikimedia Commons)
How it works isn’t clear, but it’s estimated that exercise could prevent 13% of Alzheimer’s disease cases.

The challenge then is how to get people to do more exercise so they get these benefits, and this is where Prof Lautenschlager’s latest research comes in.

She’s looking for people aged 60-80 in the Melbourne area who have concerns about their memory and currently do less than 30 minutes of exercise per week. In addition, she needs moderately active people aged 50-85 who can act as mentors for the first group.

If you’re interested in taking part in this study, you can find out more from the National Ageing Research Institute, or call Ellen Gaffy on (03) 8387 2296.

(This story first aired on 22 August 2013 – you can listen to the podcast.)

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