The purpose of this study was to investigate whether greater cardiovascular fitness in midlife is associated with decreased dementia risk in women followed for 44 years. A population-based sample of 1,462 women 38 to 60 years of age was examined in 1968. Of these, a systematic subsample comprising 191 women completed a stepwise-increased maximal ergometer cycling test to evaluate cardiovascular fitness. Subsequent examinations of dementia incidence were done in 1974, 1980, 1992, 2000, 2005, and 2009.

The study found that high cardiovascular fitness in midlife was associated with decreased risk of dementia. High compared to medium fitness decreased the risk of dementia by 88%. The authors suggest that promotion of high cardiovascular fitness may be included in strategies to combat dementia. Findings are not causal, and future research is needed on whether improved fitness could have positive effects on dementia risk and when during the life course a high cardiovascular fitness is the most important.

Hörder H, Johansson L, Guo X, Grimby G, Kern S, Östling S, Skoog I: Midlife cardiovascular fitness and dementia: A 44-year longitudinal population study in women. Neurology: pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005290. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005290. [Epub ahead of print, March 14, 2018].

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