Anyone who has seen a loved one develop dementia knows how scary and debilitating it can be. The Mayo Clinic defines dementia as a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. In other words, dementia is not an individual condition, however Alzheimer’s disease is widely known as the most common type.
The World Health Organization estimates that 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia, so needless to say plenty of research has been done looking into prevention and treatment. One of the more interesting studies explored how exercise may help ward off dementia in seniors. The data studied came from 3,700 participants who took part in the Framingham Heart Study, and it measured how often the subjects exercised over a ten year period. The study found that the 20% of participants labeled as most sedentary were 50% more likely to develop dementia than the other 80%, who regularly engaged in moderate-to-physical activity.
Another interesting conclusion from the study was that exercise had an even greater effect on lowering the risk of dementia in participants aged 75 and older. This was a significant finding because individuals in that age group may not be likely to begin an intense exercise program. However, it would be much easier convincing older seniors to increase physical activity if they are told that even moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, gardening or even ballroom dancing may help prevent dementia. In summation, any activity that causes a light sweat or moderate increases in breathing or heart rate can be considered moderate exercise.
Hopefully this research goes to show that it is never too late to start exercising, and doing so can have a major impact on quality of life, in addition to extending life.