Physical activity and exercise can improve our health in many ways and help in reducing the risk of various diseases. Making physical activity a priority and exercising regularly can show immediate results, especially in older age. A recent study has reported that physical fitness can reduce the risk of dementia by 33%.
Dementia: An Introduction
Dementia is a condition that affects a person's thinking, memory, and cognitive abilities.
People with dementia find it difficult to perform their everyday activities because it interferes with their thinking, remembering, and decision-making processes.
1 in 7 Americans over the age of 70 years suffer from this condition.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the significant causes of disability among older people worldwide.
Damage or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain can give rise to this state.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people.
It is an escalating brain disorder that steadily destroys memory and cognition.
Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias (ADRD) is the most common form of dementia.
ADRDs have cognitive and chronic symptoms similar to AD. Hence, it becomes difficult to differentiate it from the latter.
Exercise And Dementia - Previous Studies
A 2020 study exploring the effect of exercise on dementia reported that active older adults have better cognitive abilities with a reduced risk of dementia than less active ones.
A study conducted in Washington investigated the effect of exercise on dementia and AD.
A total of 1740 people >65 years of age were included in the study.
It was reported that regular exercise is linked to a delay in the onset of dementia and AD.
Another study that included 716 people(average age - 82 years) reported that those with the least physical activity were twice more likely to develop AD than the active ones.
Benefits Of Physical Fitness On Cognitive Health: The Study
The study conducted by Dr. Edward Zamrini and his colleagues aimed to explore the effect of exercise on the symptoms of dementia.
The study was conducted for an average of 8.8 years and included 649,605 participants between 30 and 95 years of age.
These individuals were free from ADRD or any other form of dementia at the start of the study.
The participants were evaluated by an Exercise Treadmill Test (ETT) to access the levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and its association with AD and ADRD.
ETT is a stress test used to determine the effect of exercise on the heart.
- Less fit individuals were at the highest risk of developing ADRD
- The fittest of them were 33% less likely to develop ADRD
- There was a strong association between cardiorespiratory fitness and reduced risk of AD
The study finally concluded that exercising daily can help reduce the risk of dementia, especially when we get older.
Physical Activity Recommendations For Dementia Prevention
- Start with activities that require minimum effort at the beginning - walking, jogging, and swimming.
- Increase your time of working out slowly with a hike of 10 minutes daily.
- Along with moving your body, try to inculcate a habit of performing tai-chi. Tai-chi involves a string of movements performed slowly along with breathing.
- Include more cardio workouts in your routine as they strengthen your heart and blood vessels.
- Practice strength and power training workouts.
- They can help in strengthening muscle power, prevent loss of bone mass, and help to improve body balance.
- ADRD is the most common form of dementia. It is an enfeebling condition that affects the memory, cognition, and thinking processes, especially in older adults.
- Exercising regularly can help promote our brain health and provide a sharper memory and enhanced thinking skills.
- A recent study has suggested that physical activity can reduce dementia risk by 33%!