Too Much Salt and Too Little Exercise Can Lead to Cognitive Decline

Megan Ray  |  September 12, 2011

Salt shakerPrevious research has proven that adults who consume high-sodium diets and lead sedentary lifestyles have a high risk of heart disease. A new study has suggested that this combination can also be detrimental to cognitive health in seniors.

"This study addresses an additional risk associated with lifestyles that are highly apparent in North American populations," said the study's senior author Dr. Carol Greenwood. Senior care may need to be altered to avoid this risk. 

The study, led by researchers at Baycrest with colleagues at several nearby universities, followed 1,262 healthy older men and women in Quebec, Canada for three years, and tracked their sodium intake and physical activity levels.

"The results of our study showed that a diet high in sodium, combined with little exercise, was especially detrimental to the cognitive performance of older adults," lead investigator Dr. Alexandra Fiocco of Baycrest reports.

However, sedentary adults who consumed low-sodium diets did not experience cognitive decline, Fiocco added.

The participants' sodium intakes were measured using Health Canada's sodium recommendation of 2,300 milligrams per day, and their cognitive decline was tracked using a modified Mini-Mental State Examination each year of the study. Their physical activity levels were measured using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly.  

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