Over two to five years of follow-up, Middleton's group found that those with the highest levels of physical activity had the lowest odds of developing any cognitive impairment, compared with those who had the least amount of physical activity.
These findings were confirmed by having participants take the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. The researchers also took factors such as Modified Mini-Mental State Examination scores at the start of the study, demographic factors, body mass, sleep, self-reported health and diabetes.
Middleton noted that while these findings cannot be said to be causal, but it "is an association between physical activity and cognitive change."
In the second study, a team led by Marie-Noel Vercambre, from the Foundation of Public Health, Mutuelle Generale de l'Education Nationale in Paris, looked at the effect of physical activity among women who were part of the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, which included women with vascular disease or three or more risk factors for heart disease.
Vercambre's group determined the level of physical activity among 2,809 women at the start of the study and every two years thereafter. In addition they conducted phone interviews with the women that included tests of mental ability and memory. These tests were given at the start of the study and three or more times over the next 5.4 years.
The researchers found that women who were most physically active had the lowest rate of developing cognitive decline. In addition, women who took a brisk 30-minute walk every day, or its equivalent, had the lower risk of cognitive impairment.
Dr. Eric B. Larson, from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle and author of an accompanying journal editorial, commented that the association between physical activity and mental ability probably had to do with overall
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