• By Ian Roth

Mayo Clinic Minute: Exercise might be key to slowing cognitive impairment

January 9, 2018

New guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology recommend regular exercise rather than unproven medicines to slow the development of mild cognitive impairment. Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, was the lead author of the guidelines.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:58) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Research shows as many as 1 in 5 people age 65 and older will develop mild cognitive impairment. Many of those will progress to Alzheimer's disease. But the new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology say a simple change in lifestyle could be the key to delaying that progression.

"If you get out there, walk briskly, jog, whatever you like to do, for, say, 150 minutes a week – 30 minutes five time; 50 minutes three times – that might, in fact, slow down the rate at which you would progress," Dr. Petersen says.

Dr. Petersen says that, since there are no medicines that have proven to be effective at slowing the progression of mild cognitive impairment, exercise appears to be the best weapon against it.

"It doesn't mean you're going to prevent it," Dr. Petersen says. "It doesn't mean it's going to stop Alzheimer's disease in its tracks. I wish it would. But, in fact, it doesn't. But I think that aerobic exercise is probably a good recommendation right now."

Learn more about the new recommendations from the American Academy of Neurology.

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