A new study has found that exercise may help some avoid dementia, but this only applies to women, not men.
And researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) found that data showing that brisk walking, cycling, or even golf can help prevent mental illness in old age applies only to women.
They think it may have to do with the “type” of exercise people do: older women are more likely to participate in group exercise than their male counterparts.
Researchers have found that cognitive exercise is beneficial for everyone, as both genders can slow down aging by up to 13 years by engaging in mental activities including reading, playing bingo, and attending classes.
“We found that more physical activity was associated with greater speed of thought in women, but not in men,” said Dr. Judy Ba, a UCLA neuroscientist who led the study.
And in a study that was published Wednesday in the journal neurology Scientists assessed the mental abilities of 758 people who were approximately 76 years old. Some do not have problems with thinking or memory, some have mild cognitive impairment, some have dementia.
Participants underwent brain scans and a thinking and memory test to assess their cognitive reserve, the buffer the brain creates to hide decline.
The results showed that women who exercised more noticed a protective effect on their brains that men who also exercised more did not.
To explain the results, the researchers wrote in the paper: “Although there were no differences in card-playing and reading behavior by gender, women reported higher levels of group activities than men. In contrast to card-playing and reading, group activities inherently have a social component that can engage cognitive abilities in different ways.”
The limitations of the study were that it was focused on northern Manhattan, New York, which meant that it excluded people from the countryside.
It also didn’t measure social and structural factors, which scientists say are “key determinants” of intelligence.
They said more research is needed to determine if exercise has a more protective effect against dementia in women alone.
Source: Daily Mail