Alzheimer’s risk: 10 simple exercises that reduce your risk of dementia

Alzheimer's: Dr Chris discusses the early signs of condition

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Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions that cause a group of related symptoms related to the decline of brain functioning. The symptoms include things like memory loss, slower thinking, problems with mental sharpness, using words incorrectly, and changes in mood or movement. There’s no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, but there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk including a few simple tasks that count as exercise.

Researchers are still investigating how dementia develops, but there is lots of evidence to support the fact that leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of dementia.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not overindulging in alcohol, quitting smoking and keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level are all key in dementia prevention, and so is exercise.

A lack of regular physical activity increases your risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are all conditions linked to a higher risk of dementia.

Older adults who do not exercise are also more likely to have problems with memory or thinking (known as cognitive ability), so it makes sense that exercise can help to reduce your risk of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, several studies looking at the effect of aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate) in middle-aged or older adults have reported improvements in thinking and memory, and reduced rates of dementia.

Studies have also found that aerobic exercise can improve your attention span and processing speed much more than non-aerobic exercise such as stretching and toning can.

Exercising can reduce your risk of dementia at any age – one study on 716 people with an average age of 82 found that those in the bottom 10 percent in terms of the amount of daily activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those in the top 10 percent.

If you hate exercise, you need to reestablish what exercise is and find an enjoyable way to get moving.

The NHS stresses the importance of doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.

You should also try to sit down less and make sure you get up and move around regularly throughout the day.

The research studies in this area do not all use the same definition of ‘physical activity’ or exercise.

The Alzheimer’s Society explains: “In general they are referring to aerobic exercise performed for a sustained period of time, perhaps 20 to 30 minutes.

“Most of the studies report on the effects of aerobic exercise done several times a week and maintained for at least a year.”

However, physical exercise does not just mean going to the gym, playing a sport or running.

Exercise can be something simple that doesn’t feel like exercise.

The following 10 activities are surprisingly good enough to count for your 150 minutes of exercise a week:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Riding a bike
  • Pushing a lawnmower
  • Pushups and sit-ups
  • Cooking
  • Washing up
  • Taking the stairs
  • Standing up taking a phone call

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