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Activity, walking help cognitive health

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CHICAGO, Sep 21, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The elderly can lower their risk of dementia by being physically active, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A University of Virginia School of Medicine team found men ages 71-93 who walked less than a quarter-mile per day had nearly twice the risk for dementia when compared to men who walked more than 2 miles per day.

The study included 2,257 men who participated in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Men who walked between a quarter-mile and 1 mile per day had a 71 percent increased risk of dementia compared to the 2-mile-per-day group.

In a second study, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found women ages 70-81 who walked at an easy pace for 1.5 hours per week or more had higher cognitive scores than women who walked less than 40 minutes per week.

"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 20 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment," the researchers wrote.

The 18,766 women in the study were part of the Nurses' Health Study that began in 1976.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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