Women over 70 years in age who engaged in higher levels of physical activity scored better on cognitive performance tests and showed less cognitive decline than women who were less active, suggests an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers surveyed nearly 20,000 women, aged from 70 to 81 years, on their levels of physical activity. They found that higher levels of physical exercise were linked to better cognitive performance. Those in the highest activity grouping had a 20 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment than those women in the lowest. Women who walked at an easy pace for at least 1.5 hours per week had higher cognitive scores than those who walked less than forty minutes per week.
The researchers said, "the apparent cognitive benefits of greater physical activity were similar in extent to being about three years younger in age and were associated with a twenty percent lower risk of cognitive impairment.
The association was not restricted to women engaging in vigorous activities. In our study, as well as in other epidemiologic investigations, higher levels of physical activity, including walking, are associated with better cognitive function and less cognitive decline."