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1st Signs of Dementia May Be Physical

Mental Declines Come Later, Study Suggests

Can Exercise Delay Alzheimer’s? continued...

Anderson is program director for studies into the epidemiology of dementiadementia with the Dementias of Aging branch of the NIA.

It has been suggested that regular exercise protects against mental decline by improving blood flow to the brain.

That may be true, Anderson tells WebMD. But it may also be true that older people tend to become less physically active with advancing mental decline. So instead of regular exercise being protective against dementia, it may just be a sign that mental function has not been impaired.

“In a sense the dementia process could be causing people to exercise less,” Anderson says.

He also points out that older people who exercise regularly may have other habits that could help reduce their Alzheimer’s risk.

“They are probably more disciplined,” he says. “They may eat a better diet or be more socially engaged. They may be doing any number of things that seem to be positive.”

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