Mental decline in older adults who live independently can be delayed if they get regular physical activity, says a new study. Specifically, the study reports that exercise can reduce the risk of vascular-related dementia—the kind associated with conditions like high blood pressure, plaque buildup in artery walls, diabetes and stroke—by more than 50 percent and cognitive impairment without dementia by 60 percent.

The study followed 638 people, average age of 74, for three years. Sixty-four percent said they were physically active 30 minutes a day for three days a week. Their activities involved walking, biking and taking gym classes. The results were disappointing, however, when it came to protecting against Alzheimer's: Researchers found no relationship between activity and the risk of developing the disease.

Source: Stroke, published online 11/12; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 29 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 29 Jul 2013