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A basic workout can keep the mind sharp

Two new studies have revealed that even a minimal amount of exercise can help ward off cognitive decline later in life. In the first study, researchers assessed thousands of women from 1995 to 1996. They monitored each subject's physical activity levels and evaluated memory, cognition and other mental tasks every two years after the initial evaluation period. 

The team noticed that as the rate of exercise increased, the risk for cognitive decline decreased. Even a fast-paced, 30 minute walk - or its energy equivalent - appeared to have significant effects. The second study confirmed the findings, showing that participants with an average age of 74.8 who were regularly active had the lowest incidence of cognitive decline. 

Overall, the findings "buttress growing evidence that habitual physical activity and fitness are associated with age-related changes in cognition and risk of dementia," according to an editorial written by Dr. Eric B. Larson. "The fact that the study used a validated measurement of energy expenditure, not just self-report, makes the results of further importance."

A new report recently claimed that more than half of Alzheimer's cases around the world were preventable. In the United States, 21 percent of the known cases were attributed to a lack of physical activity. This again emphasizes the importance of exercising, particularly in the later years.  

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