Regular walk and a moderate exercise can lower an elderly person's risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease, says a study.
In a four-year long study Italian researchers examined 749 men and women in Italy who were 65 and above in age and did not have memory problems at the beginning of the study. They assessed the amount of energy used by the participants' weekly physical activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and moderate activities, such as house and yard work, gardening, and light carpentry.
The findings revealed that 54 people developed Alzheimer's and 27 developed vascular dementia.
The researchers also found that the top one-third of participants who exerted the most energy walking were 27 percent less likely to develop vascular dementia and 29 percent lowered their risk through moderate activities.
Giovanni Ravaglia, lead author of the study and MD, with University Hospital S. Orsola Malpighi said that a moderate physical activity lowered the risk of vascular dementia in old people, free from several genetic and medical factors
"Our findings show moderate physical activity, such as walking, and all physical activities combined lowered the risk of vascular dementia in the elderly independent of several sociodemographic, genetic and medical factors," said Ravaglia.
Researchers believe that physical activity may improve cerebral blood flow and lower the risk of cerebrovascular disease, which is a risk factor for vascular dementia.
However, they found that physical activity was not associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The study appears in the in the December 19, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.