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Long walks in middle age can prevent dementia in later life

Article By: Sue Learner

The level of exercise you do when you are middle-aged can play a key role in preventing dementia in later life.

Past studies have found that physical activity such as walking can act as a protective factor against dementia but a study from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine suggests that maintaining a higher level of physical activity before ageing in later life is more important for preventing dementia than keeping physically active only in older age.

Dr Yasutake Tomata, senior assistant professor at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and author of the paper, said: “The findings of this study indicate the importance of maintaining a higher level of physical activity during middle age to prevent dementia in later life.

“Because ageing-related changes in the brain begin from early adulthood, we should pay attention to our lifestyle from a younger age. This result is just one piece of the evidence, we expect further long-term studies.”

The study, which was published in Age and Ageing asked 6,909 people over the age of 65 who lived in Ohsaki City, Japan, about the amount of time they spent walking per day.

They were surveyed in both 1994 and 2006 and asked if it was ‘less than 30 minutes’, ‘30 minutes to an hour’ or ‘more than 1 hour’. The people who did more than an hour of walking had a 28 per cent lower risk of getting dementia than those who did less than 30 minutes of walking a week.

The Age & Ageing paper can be viewed at


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