A new study finds that more older women who engage in moderate-to-high-intensity physical activity are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Researchers found that for every 31 minutes she added to moderate-to-vigorous activity a day, her risk decreased by 21%.
Data were from the Women’s Health Initiative and included 1,277 participants with a mean age of 82 years. An accelerometer was used to measure activity levels over 7 days.
Plus more steps
With an average follow-up of approximately 4 years, 267 cases of MCI/probable dementia were found in the participant group. Moderate to vigorous physical activity, especially walking, was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The researchers found that for every 1,865 steps taken per day, the risk decreased by 33%. In contrast, light physical activity and sitting were not associated with reduced risk.
The results suggest that older women should maintain moderate levels of activity or increase the intensity of lighter activity to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The findings could be particularly useful, the researchers suggest, as wearable devices are increasingly being worn and could be readily adopted.
Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D., MPH, University of California, San Diego, said: “Once dementia is diagnosed, it is very difficult to slow or reverse its progression, so prevention is key. There is no cure.”
“Older adults can be encouraged to increase at least moderate-intensity physical activity and take more steps each day to reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia,” said Steve Nguyen, PhD. MPH added. Moderate to vigorous physical activity may include brisk walking.
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