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ISEH and UCL Associate Professor, Dr Flaminia Ronca, led a systematic review together with Dr Niall Simmons and Dr Miguel Rodriguez Ruiz, whereby they analysed research with their aim of gaining key insights and further understanding surrounding the link between Perimenopausal physical activity and the risk of dementia.

There are some limitations in existing literature when examining the link between physical activity and dementia risk, as this is primarily represented by studies on mixed-sex populations. However, since menopause appears to contribute to females' increased risk of cognitive decline when compared to males, a separate consideration of indicators of physical activity and risk of late-life dementia, especially of women in the perimenopausal period, needs more clear understanding. 

The authors identified fourteen relevant papers from previous studies for review - with most of the studies presenting negative correlation between physical activity in leisure time or physical fitness during perimenopause and future dementia risk. Higher levels of household and non-leisure time physical activity also showed a positive effect on lowering dementia risk. They observed that around 150 minutes a week cause a significant reduction in risk (up to 50% in some studies) but 5.75 hours a week are associated with the greatest reduction in risk.

This systematic review suggests that promoting physical activity during the perimenopausal period may be crucial in mitigating the risk of cognitive decline in later life.

Dr Flaminia Ronca commented on this and shared: “Movement matters! This review highlights how important physical activity is to support brain health in women, particularly through menopause.”

Access the systematic review.