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Exercise and dementia prevention
  1. Jane Alty,
  2. Maree Farrow,
  3. Katherine Lawler
  1. Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, College of Health and Medicine, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jane Alty, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia; jane.alty{at}


Ageing, genetic, medical and lifestyle factors contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Around a third of dementia cases are attributable to modifiable risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking and hypertension. With the rising prevalence and lack of neuroprotective drugs, there is renewed focus on dementia prevention strategies across the lifespan. Neurologists encounter many people with risk factors for dementia and are frequently asked whether lifestyle changes may help. Exercise has emerged as a key intervention for influencing cognition positively, including reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. This article focuses on the current evidence for physical inactivity as a modifiable dementia risk factor and aims to support neurologists when discussing risk reduction.

  • dementia
  • risk reduction
  • Alzheimer’s
  • exercise
  • physical activity

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  • Twitter Jane Alty @janealty1 and Katherine Lawler @KateLawlerPT

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the manuscript. JA conceived the idea, wrote the first draft and revised subsequent drafts, devised Box 2, contributed to Figure 2 development and obtained permission for Figure 1 reproduction; MF reviewed and revised the first and subsequent drafts; KL reviewed and revised the first and subsequent drafts, devised Box 1 and contributed to Figure 2 development.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Monica Busse, Cardiff, UK, and Cath Mummery, London, UK.

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