Targeted physical activity for older adults with mild cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive decline

Emily You, Kathryn A Ellis, Kay Cox and Nicola T Lautenschlager
Med J Aust 2019; 210 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50153
Published online: 20 May 2019

Tailored guidelines are needed to support strategies for dementia risk reduction

There is now international consensus that physical inactivity can be considered a modifiable risk factor for dementia.1 Research indicates that 6.5% of the attributable risk of dementia in the global population can be ascribed to low levels of physical activity alone,2 and engaging in physical activity is regarded as one of the strongest protective factors to reduce dementia risk.2 Extensive reviews of the evidence have led international health organisations, including the World Health Organization, the British National Institute of Health and Care Excellence and the American National Institutes of Health, to advocate for physical activity as both a primary prevention (in cognitively healthy individuals) and secondary prevention (in individuals who do not have dementia but already experience cognitive decline) strategy for reducing dementia risk.2,3,4 A recent American report further supports that physical activity has many benefits, with some (eg, stroke prevention) causally linked to brain health.3 While the evidence is still inconclusive, physical activity may delay or slow age‐related cognitive decline, and people are recommended to increase physical activity to gain this brain health benefit.3

  • 1 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 University of Western Australia, Perth, WA
  • 4 Aged Persons Mental Health Program, North Western Mental Health, Melbourne Health, Melbourne, VIC



This project has been funded by the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration as part of an initiative of the Commonwealth Government of Australia. We acknowledge financial support from the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Cognitive Health (no. 1100579). We thank the project team members for their commitment to this project, and the advisory panel members for their invaluable support and advice.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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