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Physical Activity Prevents Memory Loss & Dementia

Posted Nov 02 2012 3:00pm
Earlier today, I pointed out a study suggesting that fish oil supplements improve working memory .  But it's a bit of a stretch to base your health habits on a 6 month trial of 11 young men & women, just an average of 22yo.  In that vein, I thought I'd review a prospective multinational study published early online yesterday in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association , in which the authors concluded that physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive impairment, especially vascular dementia (that percentage due to strokes) in older community dwelling individuals.

The authors arrived at their conclusion by following 639 men & women, average 75yo w/just 10yrs of education.  The participants were assessed annually for 3yrs.  Physical activity decreased the risk of cognitive impairment (by 36%), dementia (by 39%) & vascular dementia (by 58%) regardless of age, education, MRI findings, stroke & diabetes.

Of course you want to know what (minimal) amount of physical activity led to this protective benefit:   just 30 minutes at least 3 days/week as recommended by the American Heart Association .  While this study is still not the ideal randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial used to prove cause & effect, it's certainly strong enough (and consistent w/previous studies) to get you off your couch!  So don't just sit there, do something!  
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