Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia

Dec 19, 2007

People age 65 and older who regularly walk and get other forms of moderate exercise appear to significantly lower their risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the December 19, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The four-year study involved 749 men and women in Italy who were over age 65 and did not have memory problems at the beginning of the study. Researchers measured the amount of energy exerted in the participants’ weekly physical activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and moderate activities, such as house and yard work, gardening, and light carpentry. By the end of the study, 54 people developed Alzheimer’s disease and 27 developed vascular dementia.

The study found the top one-third of participants who exerted the most energy walking were 27 percent less likely to develop vascular dementia than those people in the bottom one-third of the group.

Participants who scored in the top one-third for the most energy exerted in moderate activities lowered their risk of vascular dementia by 29 percent and people who scored in the top one-third for total physical activity lowered their risk by 24 percent compared to those in the bottom one-third.

“Our findings show moderate physical activity, such as walking, and all physical activities combined lowered the risk of vascular dementia in the elderly independent of several sociodemographic, genetic and medical factors,” said study author Giovanni Ravaglia, MD, with University Hospital S. Orsola Malpighi, in Bologna, Italy. “It’s important to note that an easy-to-perform moderate activity like walking provided the same cognitive benefits as other, more demanding activities.”

Ravaglia says it’s possible that physical activity may improve cerebral blood flow and lower the risk of cerebrovascular disease, which is a risk factor for vascular dementia, but further research is needed about the mechanisms operating between physical activity and a person’s memory.

Contrary to some reports, the study found that physical activity was not associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but Ravaglia says more research is needed before concluding that Alzheimer’s disease is not preventable through exercise.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Fresh warning over Ebola as regional crisis talks start

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Commercial space travel carries implications for health

Dec 17, 2012

(Phys.org)—Just a half-century after the first human ventured into space, commercial space travel—or "space tourism"—is quickly becoming a reality. A new UCSF study looks at the health implications ...

Leonardo da Vinci's tree rule may be explained by wind

Jan 04, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci observed a particular relationship between the size of a tree’s trunk and the size of its branches. Specifically, the combined cross-sectional ...

Diabetes becomes a disease of the young

Jun 27, 2011

Some people say aiming to look sleek in your swimsuit or wedding duds is the biggest motivator for losing weight. But Mike Durbin's incentive for dropping pounds beats all.

UN: Deaths up from cancer, diabetes, heart disease

Jun 21, 2011

(AP) -- Nearly two-thirds of deaths in the world are caused by noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung disease which are rapidly increasing at a cost to the global economy of trillions of dollars, ...

Striking the right chords

Mar 30, 2011

Practice was nearly over when high school wrestler Darrin Ching collapsed and found himself pinned to the mat, a searing pain gripping his right temple. Alarmed, his coach and teammates huddled around and tried to get him ...

Recommended for you

Guidelines presented for diagnosing focal liver lesions

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Focal liver lesions (FLLs) are mostly benign, and can be diagnosed based on knowledge of their presentation, associated clinical and laboratory features, and natural history, according to clinical ...

Factors tied to neck, back pain improvement identified

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Observational registry-based research can inform patients and physicians about prognosis for subacute or chronic neck or low back pain, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of ...

User comments : 0