Preventing Dementia • Effects of Physical Exercise Podcast

Preventing Dementia • Effects of Physical Exercise Podcast

Preventing Dementia - Effects of Physical Exercise Podcast

The total number of people with dementia will increase in the coming decades and so will associated care costs making dementia a global public health priority. Recent review suggested that seven major modifiable risk factors account for about 50% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) one of which is physical exercise. In 2017 the National Academies for Science Engineering and Medicine of the USA revolutionized their recommendations for preventing dementia supporting the benefit of three classes of intervention: cognitive training, blood pressure management in people with hypertension, and increased physical activity.

Exercise and physical activity interventions 

RCTs of exercise interventions for cognition in healthy older adults have been less successful than might have been expected from the longitudinal cohort studies. Some meta-analyses have reported that benefits are limited to specific cognitive domains. 

Two recent metanalysis looked mainly at aerobic exercise were able to demonstrate a positive effect on memory only in participants already suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment.

Despite these disappointing publications the potential mechanisms for physical exercise to improve cognition or prevent dementia are both indirect effects on other modifiable risk factors and direct neurological effects, such as increased neurogenesis, cerebral blood flow, and BDNF concentrations.

Although protective effects of exercise accumulate over years rather than over a short time, and people who exercise might be different in several ways to people who do not, our current understanding of dementia prevention does rely on physical exercise as one of its’ mainstays. 

In this podcast we shall explore the published findings and the ways in which physical exercise supports brain health.


The recording is of a webinar presented by ESSA on 7 August 2020.

Presented by Associate Professor Yoram Barak

Dr Yoram Barak is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Otago School of Medicine, Dunedin and consultant psychogeriatrician at the SDHB. He is the convenor for 4th year students for the department of psychological medicine.

Trained in medicine and psychiatry at the Sackler School of Medicine. In 1993 he became an Israel Medical Scientific Council Specialist in Psychiatry, and in 2004 was awarded a Master in Health Administration from Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel.

Dr Barak was the medical director of Israel’s inpatient psychiatric services for Holocaust survivors for 25 years.
Past president of the Israeli Association of Old-Age Psychiatry, member of the FPOA committee and is on the editorial board of the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and the Open Psychiatry Journal amongst others.

Research interests include a wide range of psychiatric conditions with special emphasis on old-age psychiatry, dementia prevention and suicide. He has published extensively in these areas, and is author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles. His book "Preventing Alzheimer's Disease" has been published in the US.

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Target Audience

Any Accredited Exercise Scientist, Accredited Exercise Physiologists.

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