Moderate Long-Term Physical Activity May Improve Late Life Cognition
Posted Jul 14 2009 11:38pm
"Our results suggest that long-term strenuous activity may increase the risk of cognitive impairment in recently postmenopausal women," Tierney said. "On the other hand, moderate long-term physical activity may improve later life cognition. These preliminary findings have important implications for women's health and support the need for large-scale studies including both women and men."
Moderate Long-Term Physical Activity May Improve Late Life Cognition; Long-Term Strenuous Activity May Increase Risk of Cognitive Impairment
Long-term strenuous physical activity has been shown to decrease lifetime exposure to ovarian hormones in women and has been found to play a protective role against breast cancer. However reduction in ovarian hormone exposure has been associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment. At the same time, long-term physical activity is associated with improved cognition but the intensity required to preserve cognition is not known.
Mary C. Tierney, PhD, CPsych, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, and Senior Scientist and Director, Geriatric Research Unit, Brain Sciences Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and colleagues sought to examine the associations between both long-term strenuous and moderate activity levels and cognition in recently postmenopausal women.
Study participants were 90 women aged 50-63 years, one to 10 years post natural menopause, with no history of breast cancer, HRT use, psychiatric disorder, dementia or other neurological condition. Participants gave details on the amount of their strenuous and moderate physical recreational activities from high school to menopause. Eight memory and brain function tests were administered to all participants.
After adjusting for age, education, reproductive years, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, parity, and periods of amenorrhea, the researchers found that long-term strenuous activity was consistently associated with poorer performance on all eight of the tests; with statistically significant results on tests of semantic memory, working memory, delayed verbal recall, and sustained attention (p
Mary Tierney, et al – Intensity of long-term physical activity and later life cognition in postmenopausal women (Funders: Women's Health Student Experience, Women's College Hospital, University of Toronto; Geriatric Research Unit, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)
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