UCSD has made a breakthrough in a dementia prevention study.
KUSI says the UCSD study shows moderate to vigorous exercise and daily walks can reduce the risk of developing dementia among senior women.
In “Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association,” the team from UCSD’s Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science found that, among women 65 or older, each additional 31 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with a 21% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
Risk was also 33% lower with each additional 1,865 daily steps.
“Given that the onset of dementia begins 20 years or more before symptoms show, the early intervention for delaying or preventing cognitive decline and dementia among older adults is essential,” said senior author Andrea LaCroix, distinguished professor at the Wertheim School.
Accordng to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, dementia affects more than five million people in this country, with that number expected to double by 2050.
More women live with and are at higher risk of developing dementia than men, the UCSD researchers said.
“Physical activity has been identified as one of the three most promising ways to reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Prevention is important because once dementia is diagnosed, it is very difficult to slow or reverse. There is no cure,” LaCroix said.
For the study, researchers sampled data from 1,277 women who wore research-grade accelerometers and went about their daily activities for up to seven days to obtain accurate measures of physical activity and sitting.
The activity trackers showed the women averaged 3,216 steps, 276 minutes in light physical activities, 45.5 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and 10.5 hours of sitting per day.
Examples of light physical activity could include housework, gardening or walking.
Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity could include brisk walking.
The authors said further research is needed among large diverse populations that include men.