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Fit middle-aged women less likely to develop dementia later in life

March 16, 2018
by I Advance Senior Care
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If this doesn’t encourage you to squeeze in a workout today, nothing will: a new study from Sweden shows that women who were highly fit in mid-life were nearly 90% less likely to get dementia decades later, according to USA Today.

After initial exercise tests in middle age, researchers followed the women for 44 years. Both groups lived just as long, but those who could ride an exercise bike at a fast rate for 6 minutes in the initial test had a much lower risk of dementia later on than those who couldn’t complete the workout. 

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, couldn’t prove that exercise prevented dementia, and the findings aren’t a surprise — it’s long been known there’s a correlation between exercise and decreased dementia risk — but the results were particularly dramatic.

About 5% of the women with the highest peak workload — those who were able to bike the hardest over those 6 minutes — developed dementia, compared to 25% of those with medium fitness and 45% who weren’t fit enough to finish the test, the study found. Overall, women who were highly fit compared to those who were moderately fit decreased their risk of dementia by 88%.

The few highly fit women who did develop dementia became symptomatic at age 90 on average, 11 years later than the moderately fit.

“I’m very surprised that the finding was so strong,” said Ingmar Skoog, the paper’s senior author and a psychiatry professor at The University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “It really shows the importance of exercise."

Read more on this study at USA Today.

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