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A healthy mind in a healthy body

23rd May 2006

Keeping physically fit may help keep dementia at bay, according to new research.

Scientists in the US made the pronouncement in the Archives of Internal Medicine following a decade of studies.

Some 2,200 people over the age of 65 were followed from 1994 to 2003, with their mental functions and physical abilities given close regard.

The report found that even in people with no signs of dementia, those with poor physical health were three times more likely to develop the disease than their healthy counterparts.

Dr. Eric Larson, co-author of the report, told the New York Times that physical decline might also indicate the early onset of dementia.

"People more likely to develop dementia show early signs of physical function decline, and people, especially in old age, will develop decline in physical function as a result of dementia that may be too mild to be detected," he said.

But he stressed: "Maintaining physical fitness is likely to stave off cognitive decline, and maintaining cognitive fitness and activities can also help forestall physical decline."

A weak handshake and balance problems were among the factors which could indicate that dementia may appear in the future.