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Does Exercise Lower Your Risk of Dementia?

Does Exercise Lower Your Risk of Dementia

Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like someone is talking about all the different things you need to do to take care of your body. With so much attention given to diabetes and other health problems in the United States today, it’s not hard to see why there is so much talking of this kind.

Sometimes, with all this good health talk gets a little confusing. But don’t worry if you feel this way, because you’re not alone.

The bottom line is that the keys to good health are eating right, getting regular exercise, and seeing your healthcare provider regularly. You can even think of exercise itself as a medicine to help care for obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes problems.

It’s such a great medicine that experts are always finding new ways that it can help you. For example, a recent study has found that the more active you are during middle age, the less likely you are to get dementia.

What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term that is used for a variety of brain diseases that cause problems with memory and thinking. Common signs of dementia include:

  • Confusion
  • Having trouble remembering new things
  • Having trouble doing tasks that were once easy, like balancing your checkbook
  • Being forgetful
  • Having trouble concentrating

Many people experience dementia simply from getting older, but other conditions, like problems with blood vessels in the brain, and Alzheimer’s Disease, can also cause it.

The research

The study included 3,500 middle-aged people. Each person answered questions about their medical problems, as well as their eating and exercise habits. The researchers then followed them for 30 years to see how many people developed dementia.

What they wanted to know was if there was a link between medical problems, the amount of exercise you get and the risks of getting dementia.

The results

Exercise Lower Your Risk of DementiaThe study found that middle-aged people who rated their level of physical activity as “poor” were up to four times more likely to develop dementia later in life than people who rated their activity level as “good.” The strongest link between low levels of physical activity and dementia was seen in people with chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, obesity, or high cholesterol.

What do these results mean for you?
The results of this study don’t mean that dementia is always caused by low levels of physical activity. It is possible to get dementia if you are physically active, and not everyone who is inactive will get it.

The important message, however, is that there does appear to be a link between the amount of physical activity you get during middle age and your risk of dementia later in life. The less active you are, the more likely you are to get dementia.
What’s the solution? It’s simple—move more! Getting more exercise can help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Improve blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol
  • Feel better about yourself

Feeling good about yourself is important. Past studies have found that people who have a positive outlook on life have an easier time taking care of themselves and are healthier overall than people whose outlook isn’t so good.

The take home points

  • Dementia is a brain disorder that causes problems with thinking and memory.
  • People who have low levels of physical activity during middle age are more likely to develop dementia later in life.
  • You can start lowering your risk right now by getting active!
  • If you make exercise a regular part of your day it will also improve your physical health—this might also reduce your risk of dementia.
  • Get started today, and take the first step towards a healthier body and

 

Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_144945.html

Robert Ehrman, MD (45 Articles)

Dr. Robert Ehrman, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Physician. He completed his training in Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. He always reminds his patients that the more they take care for their health each day, the less likely they are to visit him again in the ER!

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