Physical Activity Found to Decrease Loss of Cognition and Development of Vascular Dementia
Two recently published reports found that physical activity had some effect on cognitive ability and vascular dementia. One study done in Italy was published in
. It showed that physical activity was associated with a lower risk of dementia but not
About the Study
In the Italian prospective cohort study, 749 people aged 65 and older were tracked over four years. All participants were cognitively normal at the start of the study. Their baseline fitness levels were measured. At the end of four years there were 86 cases of dementia in the group, 54 were from Alzheimer’s disease. A review of the data suggested:
- People with the highest fitness levels had significantly lower rates of developing vascular dementia.
- Physical activity did not appear to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the Cochrane review, researchers reviewed 11 randomized trials that studied the effect of aerobic physical activity on cognition. The studies involved people over the age of 55 years old with no known cognitive decline. Eight of the 11 studies reported that aerobic exercise led to increased fitness and improvement in some aspects of cognition.
The Italian study is a review of information, but this type of study is not considered the most reliable because it cannot account for other elements that may affect the outcome. The Cochrane review used only randomized, controlled studies which are considered to be highly reliable. Combining several similar studies also improves the reliability of the information.
How Does This Affect You?
There are still many questions about cognitive function benefits from exercise. In these studies only certain aspects of cognition were improved, and only aerobic exercise was studied. An exercise program started at any age has been shown to have many health benefits. Talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program if you are currently not active. If you are currently active continue doing so.
If you suspect you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of dementia or cognitive decline talk to a physician. Early treatment is important to potentially slowing down these declines.
American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Geriatrics Society
Angevaren M, Aufdemkampe G, Verhaar HJJ, et al. Physical activity and enhanced fitness to improve cognitive function in older people without known cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews . 2008;3.
Ravaglia G, Forti P, Lucicesare A, et al. Physical activity and dementia risk in the elderly: findings from a prospective Italian study. Neurology . 2008 May 6;70(19 Pt 2):1786-1794.
Last reviewed August 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.