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Exercise in Teens Can Help Cognitive Impairment Later in Life

Findings published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics indicate that women who are physically active at any point in life, particularly as teenagers, had a lower likelihood of cognitive impairment in late life.

Skipping gym class may lead to outcomes worse than detention.

Findings from a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics indicate that women who are physically active at any point in life, particularly as teenagers, had a lower likelihood of cognitive impairment in late life.

Although there is growing evidence to suggest that people who are physically active in mid- and late life have lower chance of dementia and more minor forms of cognitive impairment in old age, “there is a poorer understanding of the importance of early life physical activity and the relative importance of physical activity at different ages,” according to an online report.

The study looked at data from 9,344 women aged 65 and older hailing from Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon and Pennsylvania, who self-reported their physical activity as teenagers and at ages 30, 50 and late-life. Laura E. Middleton, PhD, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and colleagues used logistic regression to determine the association between physical activity status at each age and likelihood of cognitive impairment (modified Mini-Mental State Examination (mMMSE) score >1.5 standard deviations below the mean, mMMSE score≤22).

According to the researchers, women who reported being physically active had a lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in late life than those who were inactive at each time (8.5% versus 16.7% in teenagers, 8.9% versus 12.0% at age 30, 8.5% versus 13.1% at age 50, and 8.2% versus 15.9% at old age). When the four age groups were analyzed together, teenage physical activity was most strongly associated with lower odds of late-life cognitive impairment.

However, they said, “women who were physically inactive as teenagers and became active in later life had lower risk than those who remained inactive.” Therefore, it is imperative to promote physical activity early in life and throughout the life course, they concluded.