Dementia and sport

HPP partnered with Alzheimer’s Research UK to identify research priorities around the relationships between physical activity, brain injury and the risk of developing dementia.


More than 55 million people worldwide – and nearly 1 million in the UK alone – are living with dementia. But the condition is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. Several factors may reduce, or increase, a person’s risk of developing dementia in the future.

Participation in physical activity and exercise has a beneficial impact on cognition and brain health, and reduces the risk of developing dementia. At the same time, certain sports may put people at risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury and thus of long-term neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Encouraging greater physical activity and exercise, while reducing the risk of brain injury and head impacts in certain sports, could prevent many cases of dementia. But there is a lot we still need to understand. New research in this area could have major implications for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, and may even lead to the development of new tests and treatments.

What we’ve achieved

To understand research priorities in this area, HPP developed an internal literature report for Alzheimer’s Research UK outlining the main gaps in the literature on physical activity, brain injury and dementia.

HPP and Alzheimer’s Research UK then jointly hosted an online prioritisation workshop for 25 leading sport, clinical and scientific experts. This laid the foundation for a summary report, Dementia and sport: research priorities for the future.

Alzheimer’s Research UK will invest £500,000 in kickstarting action on the identified research priorities, which include establishing a consortium with research teams and funders worldwide and widening research into the links between dementia and sport beyond elite male sport players.

Key partners and stakeholders

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK

HPP worked closely with more than 25 experts in dementia, sports, epidemiology and advocacy as part of this project.

Project funding

This project was commissioned by Alzheimer’s Research UK. HPP developed all materials in close partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK.