August 19, 2022

Can Exercising Help Reduce the Risk of Dementia?

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It’s long been believed that keeping the body fit can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia from developing, but research on the subject has been light and often inconclusive.

But three long-term studies have released results recently that getting regular exercise does decrease the risk of developing this debilitating disease.

Centers Health Care has a look at the results of these studies and what physical activities you can do to help lower your risk.

Regular, Vigorous Exercise Makes a Difference, but Other Activities Help

One study followed over 500,000 people for 11 years. In that time, around 5,000 developed dementia. People who worked out regularly or played sports (defined as regular, vigorous activity) had a reduced risk of developing dementia by 35%.

But the study also found that just getting up and moving around regularly without doing something defined as exercising—doing household chores, for instance—gave people up to a 21% lower risk.

So the main takeaway here is to stay moving, even if you’re meeting the recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise weekly.

Because of this, experts say it’s more important to do something you enjoy instead of finding a specific exercise just because it might lead to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.

Make Fitness a Lifelong Habit

Another study followed 1,200 people for 30 years—from when they were between 7-15 to adulthood. The results found that those who had higher levels of fitness also had higher levels of cognitive functioning as adults. It’s not yet known whether there will be correlation with who develops dementia, but the results suggest that exercise is great for brain health for your whole life.

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