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Exercise prevents the incidence of dementia in older people with osteoarthritis

In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated the potential of minimal exercise (MAE) to prevent dementia in cognitively normal older individuals with osteoarthritis (OA).

Study: Minimal amount of exercise prevents incident dementia in cognitively normal older adults with osteoarthritis: a retrospective longitudinal follow-up study. Image Credit: Ground Picture/


Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of regular aerobic exercise in preventing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and degenerative brain disorders like senile dementia.

However, older adults with OA often face challenges in maintaining regular exercise due to joint pain and mobility limitations. Since about 10% of the elderly population worldwide develops dementia, finding preventive measures is crucial.

Physicians can play a vital role in influencing exercise behavior in older adults, but time constraints, limited training, and inadequate reimbursement hinder their ability to provide effective counseling.

MAE refers to the smallest amount of physical activity that can enhance health and reduce mortality, often involving brief, sporadic, or infrequent exercise sessions.

About the study

This longitudinal, retrospective cohort study examined the impact of MAE on dementia prevention in older adults with OA. Participants from the History-Based Artificial Intelligence Activities of Daily Living (HAI-ADL) database were screened.

The study included participants aged 50 or older, diagnosed with OA, and possessing comprehensive medical records. The research compared dementia incidence among different MAE frequency groups.

Study findings

The study included 242 participants without dementia but with OA, divided into MAE-no (121 participants), MAE-weekly (51 participants), and MAE-daily (70 participants) groups. The conversion rates to dementia were estimated at 47.9%, 33.3%, and 17.1% for the MAE-no, MAE-weekly, and MAE-daily groups, respectively.

Adjusted for various factors, the Cox proportional hazards model indicated that both MAE-daily and MAE-weekly groups had a significant decrease in dementia incidence compared to the reference group.

The multivariate logistic regression model showed that MAE-daily significantly reduced dementia incidence and improved cardiac conditions. These findings align with previous research indicating that even minimal exercise can prevent cognitive decline in older individuals with OA.


While the study has limitations, such as a small sample size and recruitment from specific centers in Taiwan, it underscores the importance of promoting MAE interventions, such as walking, in older populations with OA.

Even minimal exercise, when performed regularly, can enhance joint health and cognitive well-being, making it a valuable strategy for preventing dementia in this demographic.

Journal reference:
  • Chung, Y. et al. (2023) Minimal amount of exercise prevents incident dementia in cognitively normal older adults with osteoarthritis: A retrospective longitudinal follow-up study. Scientific Reports, 13(1), pp.1-9. doi:

Posted in: Medical Science News | Medical Research News | Medical Condition News

Tags: Artificial Intelligence, Brain, Dementia, Exercise, Frequency, Joint Pain, Mortality, Osteoarthritis, Pain, Physical Activity, Research, Walking

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Written by

Dr. Priyom Bose

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.