Recent Blog Articles
Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis may lower dementia risk
Scoring highly on Alternative Healthy Eating Index lowers risk for many illnesses
Can self-employment promote better cardiovascular health for women?
Why is it so challenging to find a primary care physician?
Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new injection treatment for eczema
3 simple swaps for better heart health
I’m too young to have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, right?
Asking about guns in houses where your child plays
Behavioral weight loss interventions: Do they work in primary care?
Who needs treatment for ocular hypertension?
Mind & Mood
Regular exercise may ward off cognitive decline in women with vascular disease
A study provides one more reason to carve out time every day for a brisk walk or similar exercise, especially if you have vascular disease or are at risk for developing it. Vascular disease, including heart disease and other conditions that affect blood vessels, increases the risk of age-related problems with memory and thinking, known as cognitive decline. Many studies indicate that exercise has a protective effect on cognitive function, but most have focused on generally healthy populations. The study suggests that a 72-year-old woman with vascular problems (or vascular risk factors) who exercises at least 30 minutes a day may be, on average, as cognitively sharp as a 65-year-old woman. Results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (July 25, 2011).
The study. The investigation involved 2,809 women ages 65 years and over who were part of a larger study, the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study. All of them had vascular disease or at least three risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Researchers periodically asked the women about their exercise habits, including activities such as swimming, biking, and aerobic dance, as well as walking and stair climbing. They also conducted telephone interviews to assess participants' cognitive function using five tests, including memory tests of 10 words and a "category fluency" test that asked participants to name as many animals as possible in one minute. Most of the women (81%) completed at least three assessments at two-year intervals. The researchers classified the women into five groups, or quintiles, based on their reported activity levels an average of 3.5 years before their initial cognitive assessment.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!