0511 GMT May 19, 2019
Some scientific evidence indicates that keeping your mind active through ‘cognitive training’, controlling your blood pressure and exercising more may pay dividends in terms of brain health, researchers determined, UPI reported.
Alan Leshner, CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said, “Although not yet proven to thwart the cognitive decline that accompanies aging or dementia, the public should have access to this information.
"There are a few domains where the evidence that does exist suggested they might have an effect.
"At least two of those, we know, are good for a whole lot of other things that people do or that they could suffer from.
“That's controlling your blood pressure if you have hypertension and engaging in physical exercise.”
Leshner's group was asked by the US National Institute on Aging to research measures that might delay mild mental decline or Alzheimer's-like dementia.
Specialists welcomed the findings, which the researchers deemed encouraging even if not definitive.
Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer's Association, said, "It's high time that people are given information about things they can do today to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia.
"Everyone is worried about their mental functioning. But you shouldn't feel helpless. You should take control of your brain health.”
According to the report, which was released June 22, three promising areas for future research include:
• Cognitive training: These structured programs, sometimes computer-based, are said to enhance reasoning, problem-solving and memory.
Leshner said, “However, they remain controversial and are not yet proven to prevent or slow dementia.”
Still, the report notes that one well-designed trial suggested that cognitive training practiced over time might improve long-term mental function in healthy adults.
• Blood pressure: Evidence suggested lowering high blood pressure through medication, diet and exercise — especially in midlife — might prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease. But again, that's not absolutely proven.
• Exercise: Getting more physical activity might also delay or slow age-related mental decline.
“Physical activity has many health benefits, such as preventing stroke, which is related to brain health.
“The committee did not try to pinpoint which mental activities might be best; how low blood pressure should go; or how much exercise one needs to get the most benefit.
“These are areas that need more research."