Can physical activity in older people help prevent dementia?

Around the world one person develops dementia every second and nearly half a million Australians are living with the condition. Could being physically active in our middle and later years help keep our brains in good shape? Join a study to be part of finding out.

The study

Participants are sought for a University of Melbourne study on the benefits of physical activity and brain health in middle and older aged people.

The ‘Excel Study – exercise for cognitive health’ is being led by researchers from the University’s Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age. They are inviting people aged 45-80 years living in the community who experience mild to moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety, and who have concerns about their memory, to participate.

The aim is to improve mental health and reduce dementia risk through using behaviour change techniques to encourage physical activity, and to help individuals meet physical activity guidelines.

Evidence shows that middle and older aged people should engage in regular physical activity, as it supports the health of the body and the brain. The brain health benefits also appear to include reducing dementia risk and supporting the ability to remember, think, and plan. Middle and older aged people who experience low mood, anxiety or stress are more likely to experience problems with cognition and other health problems that might benefit from physical activity.

How the study works

Participants will take part in a 12-week home-based physical activity program delivered using online email and video chat platforms.

The remote intervention delivery not only addresses the challenges of COVID-19, but also helps reduce Australia’s “tyranny of distance” as it enables people living in rural or remote areas to take part.

You do not have to already be physically active to take part in the Study.

How to take part

Visit the Excel Study information page if you think you might be interested in participating. You can read the Plain Language Statement which gives guidance on the research objectives and the researchers involved, what you will be asked to do, and the possible benefits and risks to you.

Find out more

If you have any questions or would like more information about the Excel Study contact the Research Co-ordinator Rebecca Moorhead: Tel: 03 8344 1879 (select option 3) Email:

The Excel Study is funded through the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

First published on 15 February 2022.

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Research updatesAcademic Unit for the Psychiatry of Old Age