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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note

Air Date: Week of May 18, 2001

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Living On Earth’s Maggie Villiger reports on what spiny lobsters have in common with virtuoso violinists.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Just ahead: One of the last great places versus the saw mills. First, this environmental health note from Diane Toomey.

(Music up and under: His Name Is Alive, "Across Every Fjord")

TOOMEY: New research may have women taking to the streets to keep their wits about them. Scientists from the University of California were looking for a possible link between physical activity and mental function. So they tested the cognitive abilities of nearly 6,000 women aged 65 and older, and then monitored their levels of exercise. Six to eight years later they tested the women again. Researchers accounted for differences such as age, smoking habits, education, and estrogen therapy. They found that of the women who walked the least, just a half-mile a week or less, 24 percent experienced significant mental decline. But of the women who walked the most, nearly 18 miles per week, just 17 percent experienced a similar decline. Twenty-four percent of them did so compared to 17 percent who walked the most. Other moderate physical activities like tennis and golf had similar beneficial effects. The researchers aren't sure why exercise might produce this result. They theorize that physical activity might keep brain neurons healthy. Or perhaps women who exercise are less likely to get diseases such as hardening of the arteries that could affect cognition. That's this week's health note. I'm Diane Toomey.

 

 

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