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Researchers investigate links between exercise and dementia

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Exercise is great for the body and now a group of researchers at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Ipswich are investigating if it can also prevent dementia.

PhD candidate and lead researcher Edward Bliss said more than half of Australian dementia cases were preventable through healthy lifestyle choices.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple over the next 20 to 30 years,” he said.

“Exercise improves the health of our heart and blood vessels in our body, and we’re exploring if it can also improve the health of small blood vessels in the brain that are responsible for the delivery of nutrients the brain needs to function at its best.

“Our research team believes that if we can improve the health of these vessels, then we may be able to prevent or slow the progress of cognitive disorders, such as dementia.”

Mr Bliss said they were seeking more than 130 volunteers, aged 50 to 80, to participate in a 16-week trial at USQ’s new Clinical Research Facility at Ipswich.

“We are seeking older adults who are not physically active but are keen to see if aerobic exercise, such as fast-paced walking, can help them make a lifestyle change and improve their health and wellbeing,” he said.

Participants will be divided into two groups: an exercise group and a waitlist control group. Those in the exercise group will exercise up to four times a week for 16 weeks under the supervision of an accredited exercise physiologist.

The study will bring together a team of experts in medical pathology, exercise science, cardiovascular physiology, psychology and biomedical science.

The team will use cutting-edge diagnostic equipment and non-invasive techniques to assess blood vessel and cognitive function, as well as basic health tests.

 To be involved in the study or to learn more email edward.bliss@usq.edu.au or call 4631 1488.

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