Sports for Brain Power

Cardiovascular exercise and coordination plus concentration sports may prevent dementia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Find the Olympic Games inspiring? Certain Olympic sports may provide added brain health benefits beyond entertainment.

Mayo Clinic researchers reported Olympic sports that are aerobic and require concentration and hand-eye coordination may keep the brain and the body in good shape and ward off dementia.

"Try out your favorite Olympic sport today!"

Rodolfo Savica, MD, neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, claimed that certain Olympic sports could help reduce the risk of dementia.

Based on previous studies at the Mayo Clinic, aerobic sports like running and swimming could improve mood and risk factors for cognitive decline.

Sports that require a lot of concentration and hand-eye coordination were also suggested to help brain function.

Ping-pong, badminton, taekwondo and fencing were specifically mentioned in the study.

Dr. Savica said, “We know that 30 minutes of aerobic activity of any kind five times per week is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline.”

“So it is important to stay active often and as early as you can. And if the Olympic Games push people to get active, we definitely endorse that.”

Dr. Savica specifically suggests swimming to get that much needed aerobic activity for those with joint problems.

J. Eric Ahlskog, MD, PHD, neurologist at Mayo Clinic, reviewed over 1,600 papers to find 130 that indicated aerobic activity helped reduce the risk of dementia.

Dr. Ahlskog said, “We concluded that you can make a very compelling argument for exercise as a disease-modifying strategy to prevent dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and for favorably modifying these processes once they have developed.”

Rowing and canoeing were also mentioned as great cardiovascular workouts that can be beneficial for the brain.

This article with supporting studies was published in July on the Mayo Clinic website. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 7, 2012
Last Updated:
April 2, 2013