Exercise and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Even though mild cognitive impairment is not harmful to a human being, it is risky to refuse or delay treatment. As time goes by without adequate measures, the condition could deteriorate to the point of no return. Regular exercise could be a life saver, and seems to be the better alternative to currently available medical treatments for this condition.
MCI (also known as incipient dementia) is a syndrome that is characterized by slight, but noticeable changes in a person’s cognitive functioning. This includes impaired memory or difficulty concentrating on tasks for long periods of time. It is a well-established fact that MCI can maintain a stable presence, and even gradually reduce with time. However, clinical studies show that 10-15% of individuals with MCI are at risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s, while only 1-2% of healthy people run that same risk.
There is also no unified combination of criteria for diagnosing MCI. Therefore, treatment for this syndrome has not been agreed upon either, and patients are being treated with medicine designed to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These drugs can cause mild side effects including nausea and loss of appetite. While some of them have previously shown to help, others are being investigated for their effectiveness against even Alzheimer’s. Alternatively, exercise turns out to be a much better and more reliable solution.
During a study concerning exercise and MCI, conducted by Dr. Laura D. Baker and colleagues at the University of Washington School of Medicine, 33 people diagnosed with MCI were divided into two groups. The larger group did daily exercises with a coach for 45-60 minutes every day. The control group, consisting of 10 people, did only stretches without any cardio exercise. After six months of data collectionand comparison, it turned out that people who were exercising showed noticeable improvement of memory function compared to subjects of the control group.Conducted questionnaires also show that people who exercise on a regular basis are consistently less prone to cognitive impairment or risks of Alzheimer’s, and are also in considerably less danger of having dementia later in life.
Medical treatment for MCI has not proven to be consistently helpful, yet it does not fail to be expensive and produce side effects (as any drugs do). At the same time, moderate physical exercise on a regular basis effectively helps fight the condition and prevents deterioration. It has no negative consequences and improves a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. It should be the first recommendation a doctor gives to a patient diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment before any pharmaceutical prescription.