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Exercise Behavior Blood Pressure Brain and Mental Performance

Vigorous Exercise May Preserve Cognition

1 month ago

3876  0
Posted on Jun 17, 2024, 2 p.m.

Those with hypertension (high blood pressure) are at a higher risk of cognitive impairment, including dementia. However, a study recently published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association from Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that participating in vigorous physical activity more than once a week can help to lower that risk.

"We know that physical exercise offers many benefits, including lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, and potentially delaying cognitive decline," said Richard Kazibwe, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "However, the amount and the intensity of exercise needed to preserve cognition is unknown."

The landmark Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT)

The 2015 findings from SPRINT which began in 2009 included over 9,300 participants aged 50+ with hypertension showed that intensive blood pressure management reduced cardiovascular disease and lowered the risk of death. 

For this trial, participants were randomly assigned to a systolic blood pressure goal of either less than 120 mm Hg (intensive treatment) or less than 140 mm Hg (standard treatment). However, the trial was stopped early by the NIH to disseminate the significant preliminary results, resulting in a new set of guidelines for controlling blood pressure.

The ancillary SPRINT MIND Trial

Led by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the ancillary SPRINT MIND Trial in 2019 showed that intensive control of blood pressure in older people significantly reduced the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which is a precursor of early dementia.

In a secondary analysis, the team examined the effects of vigorous exercise performed at least once a week on the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. 

According to the researchers, close to 60% of the participants engaged in vigorous physical activity at least once a week, including those over the age of 75 years old.

Those who engaged in one or more sessions of vigorous physical activity had lower rates of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. However, the protective impact of vigorous exercise was less pronounced among those under the age of 75 as it was among those older than 75 years old.

More research is needed

"It is welcome news that a higher number of older adults are engaging in physical exercise. This also suggests that older adults who recognize the importance of exercise may be more inclined to exercise at higher intensity," said Kazibwe.

"While this study provides evidence that vigorous exercise may preserve cognitive function in high-risk patients with hypertension, more research is needed to include device-based physical activity measurements and more diverse participant populations," concluded Kazibwe.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. Additionally, it is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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References/Sources/Materials provided by:

T.W. at WHN

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