According to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet (March 2015) brain training, exercise, healthy eating and management of risk factors seems to maintain or improve cognitive function and delay cognitive decline. The Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) is the first of its’ kind, ground breaking trial to combat some of the key high risk factors for dementia (eg. Heart health, high BMI).
1260 Finns aged 60-77 were randomly divided equally between the control group who were given general health tips and the intervention group. The latter had regular meetings with healthcare professionals and were given comprehensive guidance on healthy eating, exercise programs, brain training and managing metabolic and vascular risk factors, for example, with regular blood exams.
After 2 years, the participants’ cognitive performance was assessed with a standard exam, the Neuropsychological Test Battery (NTB). The overall scores for the intervention group were higher by 25%. The remarkable results for certain sections of the exam, processing speed at 150% and executive functioning at 83% were even higher. Executive function refers to the brain’s capacity to manage, plan and execute thought processes.
“Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness. However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show that an intensive program aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.” Professor Kivipelto, lead Researcher – Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland
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Tiia Ngandu, Jenni Lehtisalo, Alina Solomon, Esko Levälahti, Satu Ahtiluoto, Riitta Antikainen, Lars Bäckman, Tuomo Hänninen, Antti Jula, Tiina Laatikainen, Jaana Lindström, Francesca Mangialasche, Teemu Paajanen, Satu Pajala, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Anna Stigsdotter-Neely, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hilkka Soininen, Miia Kivipelto. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5