Dementia: Study suggests ‘leisurely’ exercise could cut the risk of dementia by almost 40%
Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia
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Over 55 million people worldwide were estimated to be living with dementia in 2020. This figure is set to double in the next 20 years as populations age. Despite its prevalence, brain decline is not inevitable.
In fact, research continues to shed light on the various ways you can forestall it.
According to new research published in the journal JAMA Network Open, “leisurely” exercise is linked to a reduced risk of brain decline.
Men over the age 60 who did regular exercise at a “leisurely” pace were 37 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the disorder in a Japanese study.
To arrive at this verdict, experts at the Center for Public Health Sciences in Tokyo analysed survey data collected between 2000 to 2003 from 43,896 Japanese seniors.
They were aged 61, on average, at the time.
The survey participants, from various areas of Japan, were asked to detail their average levels of daily activity.
Each activity was given a score, based on the energy expended doing a task.
This helped to determine how moderate or vigorous the specified activity was.
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Scores were then compared to dementia diagnoses logged between 2006 and 2016.
A total of 5,010 participants were diagnosed with the condition during this period.
Results showed no clear link between moderate to vigorous exercise and any reduced risk of dementia.
However, further analysis of the same set of data showed men who did lots of “leisure-time” exercise were at less risk of the disorder.
Men in the top 25 percent – in terms of the amount of leisure-time exercise they carried out – were 37 percent less likely to have dementia three years after being surveyed.
This association was consistent even after other risk factors such as smoking status, alcohol intake and BMI were accounted for.
Nine years after being surveyed, the more active men were 28 percent less likely to have a dementia diagnosis compared to the least active.
However, a similar protective effect was not observed for women in the study.
What counts as leisurely?
Many studies from around the world confirm the benefits of leisure time exercise but what counts as leisurely?
Leisure activities include:
Dementia – symptoms to spot
Dementia is not a disease itself. It’s a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain caused by different diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Common signs include memory loss, difficulty concentrating and finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping.
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