Moderate exercise for just half an hour three times a week could reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly, a new study published in the journal Stroke reveals.
The study was conducted by researchers at University of Lisbon in Portugal who followed more than 630 people in their 60s and 70s over a period of three years. The researchers found that over 64 percent of the volunteers exercised for at least 30 minutes in a day, three times a week.
At the end of the study period, the researchers took MRI scans of the participants and compared them with those that they had taken at the start of the study. Around 90 people developed dementia of which 54 had vascular dementia, caused by impaired blood flow to the brain, while 34 had Alzheimer's disease. The researchers also found that an additional 147 people had cognitive impairment though no dementia.
The researchers found that those who exercised for half an hour a day three times a week had a 40 percent lower risk of developing dementia and 60 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment.
"We strongly suggest physical activity of moderate intensity at least 30 minutes three times a week to prevent cognitive impairment. This is particularly important for people with vascular risk factors such as hypertension, stroke or diabetes", lead researcher Dr Ana Verdelho said.