Is There a Link Between Increased Physical Fitness and Decreased Dementia in Middle-Aged Women?

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A recent study published in Neurology in March 2018 and conducted by Helena Hörder from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology in Sweden, indicates that physical fitness may prevent dementia. This longitudinal study followed 191 women, average age 50, for 44 years and found that women who were more physically active were 90% less likely to suffer from dementia later in life compared to women who were not as physically active. Initial cardiovascular fitness was measured by a bicycle exercise test where the women were asked to perform until they felt “physically exhausted.” The results from this test categorized the women into high, medium, and low physical fitness groups. Over the next 44 years, the participants in each fitness group were assessed for dementia six times. The results showed that 5% of the highly fit women were diagnosed with dementia, compared to 25% of the moderately fit women and 32% of the low physically fit women. Even when the highly fit women were diagnosed with dementia, they were so over a decade later in their lives than the women who were categorized as moderately fit. Hörder did emphasize that this study only reveals a correlational link between cardiovascular fitness and dementia, so more research must be conducted to further understand the relationship. Although additional research may need to be conducted to demonstrate that physical fitness can improve dementia, increased physical fitness does have many other proven health benefits

To learn more about factors that impact cardiovascular fitness and possible therapies that improve cardiovascular outcomes, check out our CE article entitled: Utilizing Advances in Diabetes and Targeting Medication Adherence to Enhance Clinical Outcomes and Manage Costs for Type 2 Diabetes.

This activity is supported by independent educational grants from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc; Lilly USA, LLC; and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.