Exercise and Cognition
Here is another reason to get to the gym (or the pool or the roads or the kyack or whatever pleases you). This recent study, as summarized in MedScape, suggests that women who are physically active, especially as teenagers (I know; it is a little late to learn that now) reduce their chances of developing dementia in old age. This makes me think of the hazy research re the possible association of diet and risk of cancer, and the belief that, if it matters at all, it matters what your mother ate when you were in utero and what you ate as a teenager. Apparently, those times of life when there is rampant growth and swirling hormones matter in all kinds of ways we never imagined when we were busy worrying about "will he call tonight?" and which shoes looked most stylish.
Here is a quote and then a link to read more:
Physical Activity Levels Linked to Cognitive Impairment
For women, being physically active throughout life appears to lower the risk of cognitive
impairment in old age, a cross-sectional study showed.
Physical activity levels in the teenage years, at age 30, at age 50, and after age 65, were associated with significantly lower odds of having impaired cognition as a senior, according to Laura Middleton, PhD, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, in Toronto, and colleagues.
However, being active as a teenager was most strongly associated with a lower chance of late-life cognitive impairment, the researchers reported online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"Why this is so is unclear, but given that later-life physical activity is also associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and depression, physical activity should continue to be encouraged over the life course, regardless of physical activity status at teenage," Middleton and her colleagues wrote in their paper.
Although this observational study could not prove a causal relationship between physical activity and the odds of cognitive impairment, some possible mechanisms might explain the association.
According to Middleton, exercise could have a positive effect on brain plasticity and could improve vascular health, which would reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.