Can exercise prevent dementia?
Waterloo researcher examines link between exercise, cognitive training, vitamin D and dementia
Waterloo researcher examines link between exercise, cognitive training, vitamin D and dementiaBy Christine Bezruki Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
With clinical drug trials failing to live up to expectations, researchers are looking at another way to fight dementia: exercise.
Studies show that people who are physically active have 40 per cent lower risk of dementia, possibly due to the growth of new neurons and blood vessels in the brain.
“We know that exercise helps with brain function and repair,” said Laura Middleton, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology studying the link between physical activity and dementia. “What we don’t know is what kind of exercise is the most effective, and what other factors can enhance results.”
This fall, Professor Middleton will lead two new clinical trials looking at how exercise, either on its own or in combination with vitamin D and cognitive training, can improve function in at-risk or newly diagnosed individuals.
“Each of these strategies have shown success in isolated trials,” said Middleton. ‘We want to know how we can get the best results with exercise and whether we can get better results by combining in all three.”
The studies, which are currently recruiting participants with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia, hope to identify a formula for slowing cognitive decline.
“We have the potential to alter the course of the disease,” said Middleton. “Exercise is a more effective treatment for dementia than any drug on the market. We are in the process of developing prescriptions for its use.”
If you are eligible and interested in participating in these or related studies, please contact Kayla Ragan or Laura Middleton at 519-888-4567 ext. 33045.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within our Office of Indigenous Relations.