A study published on November 1, 2012 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, led by a Portuguese researcher, found that regular physical activity could help older adults reduce the risk of becoming demented.
The investigation found that healthy elderly persons, practicing regular physical activity have reduced the risk of dementia from vascular origin by 40% and the risk of cognitive impairment of any etiology by 60%.
According to researchers led by the Portuguese investigator Ana Verdelho, the protective effect of regular physical activity remained; regardless of age, education, changes in white matter of the brain and a history of stroke or diabetes.
These statements are based on a prospective multinational European study, LADIS, which included cognitive assessments for three years. During the experiments, the patients enrolled were evaluated annually and subjected to Cerebral MRI to assess changes in white matter of the brain and hippocampal atrophy (indicators of cognitive decline). The results point to growing evidence that regular physical activity promotes brain health.
Ana Verdelho, researcher in the area of neurosciences at Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, advised that it is highly recommended to save at least 30 minutes of the day, 3 times a week, for physical activity of moderate intensity to prevent cognitive impairment. This measure is of particular importance for individuals with vascular risk factors such as hypertension, stroke, and diabetes. She also recommended that after retirement people should adopt a set of measures beneficial to health in genera and in particular cognitive abilities that could be implemented. With the current aging population, the number of patients with cognitive impairment and dementia has been steadily growing; it is a situation that can be altered with changes in attitude during the aging process.
The investigation included 639 people aged between 60 and 84 year, of which 55% were women, Of the respondents, 64% said they were active for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week. The activities included gyms, walking and cycling.
Now, the next step is to replicate the results in the context of a clinical trial, since this was only an observational study in order to validate the study further.