Elevated blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. A recent study conducted by an international team of researchers focused on the benefits of regularly engaging in intense physical exercise to help preserve cognitive function in adults over the age of 50 with hypertension and a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study, which included 9,361 US adults, revealed that participating in at least one session of vigorous physical activity (VPA) per week was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Those who met this criteria had a lower incidence of mild cognitive impairment and probable dementia compared to those who did not engage in intense exercise. While nearly 60% of the study participants met the VPA criteria, the protective effects of exercise on cognition seemed to diminish after the age of 75.

For physical activity to be considered vigorous, it should significantly increase your heart rate and breathing. Activities such as jogging would qualify as vigorous, while a leisurely walk may not. The study highlighted the importance of intensity in physical exercise when it comes to preserving cognitive function.

One limitation of the study was that participants self-reported their exercise routines without independent assessments. This means that there is not enough evidence to establish a direct link between intense physical activity and protection against cognitive decline and dementia. The researchers called for future studies to include more detailed exercise monitoring and a wider range of participants to further explore this relationship.

Despite the limitations of the study, the findings suggest that engaging in intense physical exercise, particularly in high-risk individuals with hypertension, may help maintain cognitive function. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of exercise on cognitive health and to include diverse populations in these studies. The link between physical activity and cognitive function is becoming increasingly clear, highlighting the importance of staying active for both physical and mental well-being as we age.

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