A new study has found that women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90 percent less likely to develop dementia decades later, compared to women who were moderately fit.
The study measured women’s cardiovascular fitness based on an exercise test. When the highly fit women did develop dementia, they developed it an average of 11 years later than women who were moderately fit, or at age 90 rather than 79.
Researchers say the findings demonstrate that improving women’s cardiovascular fitness in middle age could delay or even prevent them from developing dementia.
Researchers point out that the report did not show a cause and effect between cardiovascular fitness and dementia, but rather an association. It’s also not clear whether a lifetime of high fitness level is important or only starting in middle age.
West Virginia is tied with Oklahoma for the 9th most inactive state in the country.
The study was conducted in Sweden over a 44-year time period. Researchers say more work is needed to verify the findings in other demographics and parts of the world. The study was published this week in the online issue of Neurology.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.