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Does exercise hold the key to preventing dementia?

Research study to assess if exercise can improve overall cognitive performance.

Exercise may be great for the mind and body, but can it prevent dementia?

That’s the question a group of researchers at USQ Ipswich have asked in a new clinical research study.

PhD candidate and lead researcher Edward Bliss said more than half of Australian dementia cases were preventable through healthy lifestyle choices, and this new study will dig even deeper.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple over the next 20 to 30 years,” Mr Bliss said.

“Exercise improves the health of our heart and blood vessels in our body, and we’re exploring if it can also improve the health of small blood vessels in the brain that are responsible for the delivery of nutrients the brain needs to function at its best.

“Our research team believes that if we can improve the health of these vessels, then we may be able to prevent or slow the progress of cognitive disorders, such as dementia.”

Mr Bliss said they were looking for more than 130 volunteers, aged 50 to 80, to participate in a 16-week trial at USQ’s new Clinical Research Facility at Ipswich.

“We are seeking older adults who are not physically active but are keen to see if aerobic exercise, such as fast-paced walking, can help them make a lifestyle change and improve their health and wellbeing,” he said.

Participants will be divided into two different groups: an exercise group and a waitlist control group. Participants in the exercise group will exercise up to four times a week for 16 weeks under the supervision of an accredited exercise physiologist.

The study will bring together a team of experts in medical pathology, exercise science, cardiovascular physiology, psychology and biomedical science. The team will use cutting-edge diagnostic equipment and non-invasive techniques to assess blood vessel and cognitive function, as well as basic health tests.

To get involved in the study, or to learn more, contact Edward Bliss at or phone 4631 1488. 

Man coducting test on woman
USQ researcher Edward Bliss, pictured with Tricialla Roache, will be examining the link between brain health and exercise.