25 September 2018

Study finds two minutes of exercise may reduce dementia

Study finds two minutes of exercise may reduce dementia

People aged over 60 can reduce the risk of age related illnesses such as dementia through just two minutes of exercise per week, according to new research.

The ground-breaking study from Abertay University saw 17 people aged between 60 and 75 take part in two training sessions per week for 10 weeks. 

The group took part in what’s known as sprint interval training (SIT) and were asked to cycle as hard as they could on a stationary bike for six seconds before resting.

They then repeated the process until they achieved a total of one minute of high intensity exercise in each session.

Each participant had hypertension - a risk factor for dementia - and was on medication to control their blood pressure. By the end of the study, their blood pressure had fallen to normal, healthy levels. This happened without any change in medication or diet.

30% of Scotland’s population will be aged over 60 in the next five years, and it’s projected that age related illnesses will place increasing strain on the NHS.

Dr John Babraj, who led the study, is a lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Abertay University, which offers a range of degrees within the Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

He said: “The potential outcomes of this could be massive. We have an ageing population and people are living for longer. However, their lifestyles aren’t necessarily healthier.

“There’s a big increase in the number of people who have movement difficulties and in the number of people who have illnesses associated with ageing such as dementia, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“What we’ve seen with this simple exercise is a reduction in blood pressure which could potentially lead to a reduction in long term frailty and in the extent of dementia in older people.

“This form of exercise is unique as you’re asking people to work as hard as they can. The stress being put on the body forces it to change.

“It’s making the body adapt to what we’re doing and that’s why this type of exercise has so many major long term health benefits.

“We’d now like to do a longer study to explore the link between the decline in physical function and the decline in brain function.

“They seem to be interrelated and as the population grows older it’s increasingly important that we find non-pharmaceutical ways of dealing with age related issues. The more active we keep people, the better.”

To read the study in full, click here.

For information about Abertay University's sport courses visit: https://www.abertay.ac.uk/schools/social-and-health-sciences/division-of-sport-and-exercise-sciences/

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