A survey of 26 other large studies has found that indicators of heart-health factors "like high blood pressure, diabetes and exercise habits" played a key role in the overall health of the brain as well. Cognitive skills like reasoning and ability to learn decrease with age and lead to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. However, regular exercise, social contact and intellectual pursuits have been shown to delay the onset of the disease, according to Dr. Hugh C. Hendrie of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research in Indianapolis.
Dr Hendrie was the chief of the committee that reviewed the studies, the report of which is published in the Alzheimer's Association journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. The report analyzed 26 North American and European studies that monitored elderly individuals with special emphasis on cognitive and emotional health. "It did surprise us a little that there's some consensus developing," Hendrie said. It was found that there was a consistent link between high blood pressure and poor cognitive function and regular exercise and sharp cognitive skills. The reasons for such an association are not very clear. "The things that are likely to be good for your overall health anyway," Hendrie said, "may also be good for your brain health." Exercise might also have a protective effect on the brain cells and delay their degeneration.