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Mental exercise vital in reducing dementia risk

25th January 2006

Latest studies into the treatment of dementia have supported the view that exercise is beneficial for both the body and the mind.

A number of reports have linked regular physical exercise with a reduced risk in developing early onset dementia but new research suggests that mental activity is just as important, reports

Neuroscientists at an Australian university have discovered that the risk of suffering from dementia was almost halved in those who exercise their brain on a regular basis.

Studying the role played by a variety of mental activities including education, employment and brain use, they found that exercise could reduce mental decline.

Even those who had missed out on early educational stimulation were able to bring down their risk by engaging in mental activity in later life.

"People's risk for dementia is related to ongoing mental activity post-retirement independent of their activity levels prior to that," explained Michael Valenzuela, one of the researchers.

"That could involve ongoing study, reading, social activities like volunteering for charity groups, complex leisure activities like chess or artwork."

Further research is due to be carried out in a study using 400 retired people, which Mr Valenzuela hopes will support the initial findings.