Updated guidelines released by the American Academy of Neurology suggest that exercising twice a week can have positive impacts on thinking and memory ability for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a  slight, yet serious noticeable decline in cognitive abilities. It is commonly seen in  ageing people.

According to the AAN, people with MCI may have difficulty completing complex tasks and process information they have read.

Additionally, persons with MCI are at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia compared with those who do not have MCI, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA). Dementia is when a person has difficulty with performing daily tasks such as bathing, dressing and even eating.

About 6 percent of people in their 60s worldwide have MCI, and more than a third of people over the age of 85 suffer from it.

The Alzheimer’s Association likewise endorsed the new guideline from the AAN.

Under the new guideline, doctors can advice their patients with MCI to adapt regular exercise to manage their symptoms. The ANN noted that six-month studies were able to confirm that twice-weekly exercise routines do improve memory. Long-term studies, however, have not yet been conducted.

Further, the AAN noted that as of yet, there are no FDA-approved medications for MCI, nor high-quality, long-term studies to suggest that drugs and dietary changes do improve thinking ability among affected persons.

“It’s exciting that exercise may help improve memory at this stage, as it’s something most people can do and of course it has overall health benefits. Because MCI may progress to dementia, it is particularly important that MCI is diagnosed early,” said lead author Dr Ronald Petersen, PhD, an AAN fellow.

The authors reviewed all the MCI-related studies before formulating the new guideline, according to the Academy’s release.

The new guideline is published in the online issue of Neurology, AAN’s medical journal. MIMS