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Moderate exercise may prevent dementia

Walking every day and moderate exercise may significantly reduce the risk of developing vascular dementia, researchers say.

A study of more than 700 men and women aged 65 years and over in Italy found that those who exercised the most were 27% less likely than those who exercised the least to develop vascular dementia.

The study measured the amount of energy exerted through moderate exercise such as walking, climbing stairs, gardening and light carpentry.

Study author Giovanni Ravaglia said: “Our findings show moderate physical activity, such as walking, and all physical activities combined lowered the risk of vascular dementia in the elderly independent of several sociodemographic, genetic and medical factors.”

Ravaglia suggests that physical activity may improve the cerebral blood flow and lower the risk of cerebrovascular disease, a risk factor for vascular dementia.

He adds: “It's important to note that an easy-to-perform moderate activity like walking provided the same cognitive benefits as other, more demanding activities.”

American Academy of Neurology