How to Cut Your Risk of Dementia in Half

Dear Living Well Daily Reader,

You may already know that eating right, taking care of your heart and supplementing with certain vitamins and nutrients like B12 and curcumin are great ways to keep your mind sharp and stave off the devastating effects of dementia.

However, there is another component that’s just as important as diet and supplementation.

In fact, this one easy solution can slash your risk of dementia by 50 percent. 

But the good news doesn’t stop there — this common practice can even increase the size of your brain.

Plus, it only takes minutes out of your day to do.

This one simple thing can thwart the dangers of cognitive decline and help you keep a healthy, active brain well into your golden years.

So what is this magic bullet?

It’s not a dangerous prescription drug…

Or even a superfood…

No, it’s one thing that every health care professional tells you to get more of — exercise.

But don’t worry. New research shows that you don’t have to be a marathon runner or Olympic gold medalist to reap the brain benefits of movement.

--Walk Away From Dementia 

Research from the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program at the University of California, Los Angeles shows that folks who regularly participate in moderate exercise can decrease their chances of dementia by 50 percent when compared with those who get little to no exercise.

The study included about 3,700 participants age 60 or older, and tracked their exercise frequency over the course of a decade. During the study, 236 of the participants developed dementia.

To analyze the effects physical activity has on the risk of developing dementia, the scientists sorted the participants into five different groups that ranged from sedentary to highly active.

And what they found was shocking!

Those who were the most sedentary were 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than any other group. 

Put another way, even just a bit of exercise helped fight the development of dementia.

Through brain scans, the researchers also found that the participants who exercised more had larger brains than those who didn’t. As the brain shrinks with age, it’s beneficial to have a more voluminous brain. It may better withstand the cognitive threats of aging.

--More Health at a Moderate Pace 

In addition, participants who were 75 years or older experienced the most protective effects of exercise against dementia. Dr. Zaldy Tan, a researcher in the study and medical director at UCLA’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, reports:

It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to stave off the risk of dementia. Even moderate amounts are fine. The message here is that you’re never too old to exercise and gain benefit from it. These patients derive the most benefit from exercise because they are the ones who are at the age of greatest risk for dementia.

So what counts as moderate exercise?

According to the study, folks who worked up a light sweat at least two hours a week through any activity saw a reduction in their risk of developing dementia. Forms of moderate physical activity include walking, bicycling, gardening and ballroom dancing.

But increasing your exercise level can be as simple as doing a few more daily chores or taking one more trip to the mailbox. Start where you are, and increase your exercise gradually. If you walk an average of 1,000 steps a day, first challenge yourself to take 1,200, and then continue to increase your steps over time.

Live well,

Natalie Moore
Managing editor, Living Well Daily


Sources

[1] Physical Activity, Brain Volume, and Dementia Risk: The Framingham Study

[2] Exercise Lowers Risk of Dementia, Improves Memory

[3] Even a Little Exercise May Help Stave Off Dementia

Natalie Moore

Written By Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.

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