A pair of studies published today on aging have found evidence that seniors who exercise are less likely to experience a decline in cognitive function. Researchers in the first study tracked cognitive function over a 5.4-year period and compared it to the respondees' exercise habits. Among people who exercised at least 30 minutes per day, cognitive impairment was significantly lower than non-exercisers. Perhaps more important, greater levels of exercise resulted in even lower risk. In the second study, which measured activity levels among 174 people in their seventies, study participants who exercised more also had the lowest levels of impairment after five years. The research is the latest in a series of studies suggesting that dementia among the elderly is—at least in part—preventable. The studies "highlight a gradual but steady change in current thinking about risk factors for late-life dementias," says Eric B. Larson, a doctor and public health researcher in Seattle. Previous research had relied on patient-reported levels of exercise, not more objective measurements.
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