Alzheimer's DementiaElderlyExercise

Support for exercise to preserve cognitive function

Researchers at the Foundation of Public Health, Mutuelle Generale de l’Education Nationale, in Paris, reanalyzed data from the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study (WACS), a cohort of women with prevalent vascular disease or 3 cardiovascular risk factors.

First, the details.

  • 2809 older women underwent a cognitive assessment interview, including 5 tests of global cognition, verbal memory, and category fluency.
  • Tests were administered at the start of the study and 3 more times over 5.4 years.
  • Annual rates of cognitive changes were compared to total physical activity and energy expended while walking.

And, the results.

  • There were significant decreases in the rates of cognitive decline as energy expenditure increased.
  • Compared with those with the least total physical activity, significant decreases in rates of cognitive decline were observed with the equivalent of daily 30-minute walks at a brisk pace.
  • This was equivalent to the difference in cognitive decline observed for women who were 5 to 7 years younger.
  • Regularly walking for exercise was significantly related to slower rates of cognitive decline.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Regular physical activity, including walking, was associated with better preservation of cognitive functionin older women with vascular disease or risk factors.”

The results are supported by a study at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, in Toronto, Ontario. Among 197 elderly men and women who were free of mobility and cognitive impairment, greater activity energy expenditure appeared to be protective against cognitive impairment in a dose-response manner.

8/15/11 22:26 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.