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Aging: Sharper Minds With Bustling Feet

Posted: Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Those who walked regularly had the mental acuity associated with people much younger.

One of the studies, which tracked the health and exercise habits of more than 18,000 women over a period of about 12 years.

"We're looking at two or three hours of walking at an easy pace," said the lead author, Dr. Jennifer Weuve, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. The second study, led by Dr. Robert D. Abbott of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, followed the health of almost 2,300 men, ages 71 to 93, and found that those who walked the least had twice the risk of developing dementia as those who walked two or more miles a day. The women's study, conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the public health school, drew data from participants in the long-term Nurses' Health Study followed from ages 70 to 81. It found that women who reported walking at least six hours a week had a 20 percent lower risk of mental impairment than inactive women.

The researchers for the studies said they had taken into account the possibility that mental impairment had led the participants to exercise less, and the benefit still appeared clear. Among the possible explanations, Dr. Weuve said, was that the good overall cardiovascular health helped the brain. She also pointed to research suggesting that physical activity encouraged the growth of brain cells and the connections between them.

Both studies were published in the Sept. 22 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Associati

Source:  Diabetes In

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