Last year The Canadian Press reported, “The prevalence of cognitive impairment was significantly lower in women aged 65 and older who reported they were physically active as teens than in those who were inactive in their teen years,” according to a study at the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Principal investigator Laura Middleton said, “If we want to optimally prevent dementia, it’s important to start physical activity as early in life as possible.”

There have been a number of studies showing the benefits of exercise to stave off dementia and cognitive impairment in our middle age years and later, but this study adds the dimension of the earlier in life the better. Hence, as seniors, we need to encourage our grandchildren to remain active.

Middleton worked on the project while she was at the University of California in San Francisco, and used data from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. She analyzed the responses of 9,704 women in four U.S. cities: Baltimore, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and Monongahela Valley, Pa. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Highlights include the following:

  • Women reported on their physical activity as teens, ages 30, 50, and late life.
  • People who were active as teenagers had a greater reduction in their risk of cognitive impairment compared to any of the other ages.
  • Prevalence of cognitive impairment in the women who’d been physically active in their teen years was 8.5 per cent, compared to 16.7 per cent among those who weren’t physically active as teens.
  • For those active versus inactive at age 30, prevalence of cognitive impairment at age 65 or older was 8.9 per cent compared to 12 per cent, and at age 50, 8.5 per cent versus 13.1 per cent.
  • Women who were inactive as teenagers and became active in later life still had a lower risk of cognitive impairment than those who remained inactive.

Louis Bherer, director of clinical research at the Montreal University Geriatric Institute, said most people in the field agree that physical activity is probably the most promising strategy to protect against cognitive decline, but he added that there are limitations to this study.

When a door is always in use, the hinges will never rust. ~Chinese Proverb. Let’s get moving to increase our gray matter.

 

 

 

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Filed under: AgingAlzheimer'sDementiaExerciseGracefully AgeObesitySenior HealthSeniors

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