Video: Exercise keeps dementia at bay for middle-aged women
There’s an established body of research showing exercise is beneficial for your brain and may go some way to staving off dementia but what’s been less clear is whether or not it’s the stimulation provided to your brain by exercise – if it’s in a social setting or a complex game – or the exercise itself which provides the benefit. That’s what a new Swedish study set out to find.
In the research, more than a thousand women had their cardiovascular fitness measured through a cycling test they had to undergo to exhaustion. The researchers recorded each person’s blood pressure, respiratory and heart rate during these tests. This was done in 1968 and the researchers tracked these women over 44 years to see how their health progressed, including which of the women developed dementia.
The researchers found a significant association between a woman’s fitness at midlife and her risk of dementia. Women who were considered to have “high” fitness as opposed to “medium” fitness in the study had a decreased risk of dementia of almost 90 per cent. This echoes the work of other studies. It wasn’t clear why midlife exercise can have an effect on dementia down the track, but the researchers thought it likely there were a variety of factors at work – the downstream consequences of exercise on conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes (which are themselves associated with an increased risk of dementia), as well as the positive effects exercise can have on the brain itself.
Exercise is beneficial to our health in so many ways, but you already knew that. What this study indicates is the importance of consistency – exercising (and maintaining a healthy diet) across your life to decrease your risk of dementia (and other health problems) down the track.
Last Reviewed: 21/08/2018
© Norman Swan Medical Communications.
Horder, et al. (2018). Midlife cardiovascular fitness and dementia: A 44-year longitudinal population study in women. Neurology doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005290.
Vascular dementia describes problems with reasoning, planning, judgement, memory and other thinking skills that interfere with daily life.
Heavy drinking a risk factor for dementia
Researchers have found heavy drinking is associated with the development of dementia - particularly early-onset dementia.
Many pregnant women still not exercising enough
Despite most pregnancy guidelines recommending exercise during pregnancy, a large number of pregnant women participate in little to no physical activity. It’s important for your own health and that of your baby that you remain healthy during pregnancy and this includes both healthy eating and exercise.
Dementia is a collection of symptoms caused by disorders of the brain that cause damage and death to brain neurons. Dementia can affect memory, language, behaviour and the ability to carry out complex tasks. The decline associated with dementia is often gradual and more common in the older population.
Video: Menieres disease
Meniere's disease is a condition of the inner ear that causes attacks of dizziness, loss of balance, ringing and hearing loss. It's thought that a build-up of fluid in the inner ear causes the pressure to rise, disrupting the hearing and balance signals from the inner ear to the brain.