[Paleopsych] NYT: Aging: Sharper Minds With Bustling Feet

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Tue Sep 28 14:55:07 UTC 2004

Aging: Sharper Minds With Bustling Feet
NYT September 28, 2004

[Those who do not have time for exercise now will make up for it later 
when they get sick. I forget who said that.]

Just going out regularly for an easy walk appears to help
elderly people ward off a decline in their mental
abilities, two new studies have found.

One of the studies, which tracked the health and exercise
habits of more than 18,000 women over a period of about 12
years, found that those who walked regularly had the mental
acuity usually associated with people several years

"We're looking at two or three hours of walking at an easy
pace," said the lead author, Dr. Jennifer Weuve, an
epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. The
second study, led by Dr. Robert D. Abbott of the University
of Virginia School of Medicine, followed the health of
almost 2,300 men, ages 71 to 93, and found that those who
walked the least had twice the risk of developing dementia
as those who walked two or more miles a day. Both studies
were published in the Sept. 22 issue of The Journal of the
American Medical Association.

The women's study, conducted by researchers from Brigham
and Women's Hospital and the public health school, drew
data from participants in the long-term Nurses' Health
Study followed from ages 70 to 81. It found that women who
reported walking at least six hours a week had a 20 percent
lower risk of mental impairment than inactive women.

The researchers for the studies said they had taken into
account the possibility that mental impairment had led the
participants to exercise less, and the benefit still
appeared clear. Among the possible explanations, Dr. Weuve
said, was that the good overall cardiovascular health
helped the brain. She also pointed to research suggesting
that physical activity encouraged the growth of brain cells
and the connections between them.


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