Various studies have been done to determine which lifestyle changes play a role in preventing or slowing down dementia. Of the lifestyle changes studied, it appears that taking regular physical exercise is your best defence against developing dementia.
The combined results of eleven studies show that regular aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate) can reduce your risk of getting dementia by about 30 percent, and as much as 45 percent for Alzheimer’s disease in particular.
Apart from doing regular exercise in mid-life to try and prevent dementia, exercise is also known to slow down the deterioration of those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Through regular exercise the blood flow to your brain is increased and in turn the existing connections are maintained, and new connections are made, contributing to a healthy and active brain.
The earlier the better
Recent research has shown that abnormalities in the brain begin decades before the actual onset of cognitive decline, meaning that the sooner you start exercising, the better for your mental health. Anything from walking your dog to mountain climbing is considered exercise and as little as two-and-a-half hours per week can be beneficial.
Whilst we know that there is no cure and nothing can prevent dementia per se, adding regular exercise to your daily routine will not only make you feel and think better, it will also reduce your risk of developing dementia in later years.
Remember, it only takes around 28 days for a new routine to become a habit – tough it out for a month and before you know it, regular exercise will become the new norm in your daily life.