Older people who are concerned about the development of dementia should add regular exercise to their arsenal of prevention techniques, says a new study.
For the study, researchers evaluated 639 people - roughly half male and half female- in their 60s and 70s living in various parts of Europe. Almost 64 percent of the participants said they were active at least 30 minutes a day three times a week doing activities that included gym classes, walking and biking.
Researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests at the beginning and end of the study to evaluate white matter changes in the brain. These changes could be one indicator of possible cognitive decline.
The study found that the participants who regularly engaged in physical activity reduced their risk of vascular-related dementia by 40 percent and cognitive impairment of any kind by 60 percent.
“We strongly suggest physical activity of moderate intensity at least 30 minutes three times a week to prevent cognitive impairment,” said Ana Verdelho, M.D., lead author of the study and a neuroscience researcher at the University of Lisbon, Santa Maria Hospital in Portugal.
This research follows another similar study published earlier this week on the health benefits of exercise for seniors. In this study, researchers found that 80-year-olds who engage in lifelong endurance exercise have the average aerobic capacity of 40-year-olds.