Physical Activity May Slow Cognitive Decline

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It is already known that exercise improves mood, lessens the likelihood of depression, and is generally healthy for you. However, a new study has found a connection between regular exercise and the decline of the mind. According to findings recently presented at the Alzheimer’s 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease, regular activity can significantly slow cognitive decline. In particular, a simple activity like walking 20 to 30 minutes a day appears to have protective benefits. According to Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, “What we found with our research is that even if you stop exercising for a while, when you return to regular activity, you really don’t lose much when compared to people who are continually sedentary.” The study was composed of 3,075 men and women, ages 70 to 79, who were enrolled in the Health Aging and Body Composition Study. The researchers assessed level of activity based on self-reports from each participant. The mean rate of decline among those that had sedentary lifestyles was .62 points a year; however, those that walked 20 to 30 minutes a day experienced cognitive decline at .4 points per year, a significant decrease. Click here to read an article from CNN that discusses the study more.

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