TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who keep active may be helping to reduce their odds of losing their mental abilities, two new studies suggest.
Both reports were published online July 19 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, to coincide with presentations scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Paris.
"We looked at an objective measure of physical activity -- most previous studies looked at self-reported levels of physical activity, which always has some inherent error," said the lead researcher of the first study, Laura E. Middleton, from the Heart and Stroke Foundation Center for Stroke Recovery at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto.
Using this measure, the researchers found that those who were the most physically active had a 90 percent lower risk of developing significant cognitive decline, compared with those who had the least physical activity, she said.
"This suggests, because this method is able to capture all types of physical activity, that low-intensity physical activity may be important," Middleton said. "So not just jogging, swimming or biking, but maybe just moving around the house, doing chores, walking outside, may also be important for protection against cognitive impairment."
"We shouldn't just be encouraging people to exercise, we should discourage them from being sedentary," she added.
For the study, Middleton's team collected data on 197 men and women who took part in the ongoing Health, Aging and Body Composition study. The participants had an average age of 74 when they started the study and none had any cognitive difficulties, the researchers noted.
To determine the effects of activity on mental ability, the researchers measured the total amount of energy the participants used. To do this, they used a method called "doubly labeled water," whic
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