(NaturalHealth365) We all know about the benefits of exercise and importance of engaging in regular physical activity. But, to those looking for more ‘proof,’ a new Swedish study of women and fitness has discovered that a high level of cardiovascular fitness can reduce the risk of dementia (later in life) by a stunning 90 percent.
As you may know, I created the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit as a way of helping the world to deal with this growing health crisis. I know all too well what it’s like because my father is dealing with this dreadful disease. (I only wish my own family could have embraced the ideas expressed in this summit.)
Anyway, back to the study: the results were in comparison with women who were just moderately fit instead of having a high fitness level, according to the study. As a side note, my father was an avid handball player and when he stopped exercising – I noticed a huge downturn in his mental capabilities.
The research of this study were published in the American Academy of Neurology medical journal in March of 2018.
Dementia delayed or avoided in women with high cardiovascular fitness levels
The study rated the cardiovascular fitness levels of the women participating in the study based on an exercise test. Across the boards, women with higher fitness levels were more likely to stay free of dementia into their later years of life. (and, I’m sure – if they studied men – the results would be about the same.)
However, the high fitness women who did develop it did so an average of 11 years later – for example, at the age of 90 instead of 79 in moderately fit women. Pretty impressive, to say the least.
For the study, 191 women rode a stationary bicycle to exhaustion to measure peak cardiovascular capacity. The average age of the women was 50. The workload for a high fitness level was at least 103 watts, and 40 of the women met the criteria for the study. (“Watts” refer to an effort level – which you may notice scroll across the display panel on many cardiovascular machines at the gym.)
Warning: Nearly half of those with low fitness levels at age 50 eventually developed dementia
There were 92 women in the study group considered medium fitness level, and 59 in a low fitness category (80 watts peak exertion or less). These women stopped the exercise test due to chest pain, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems.
Over 44 years, the women came back for dementia testing six times. During that time, 44 of the 191 women developed the disease. Just five percent of those with high levels of fitness developed dementia, compared with 32 percent with low fitness levels and 25 percent of the moderately fit women. (the message is clear, wouldn’t you say?)
The researchers concluded that the high fitness level women were close to 90 percent less likely to develop dementia in their later years. Of those who had to cease the exercise test due to health risks, 45 percent were diagnosed with dementia.
To avoid dementia: Get past ‘moderate’ fitness levels and strive for greater cardiovascular endurance
It’s clear that – especially in your midlife – exercise habits matter. No matter how busy you are, make fitness a priority because you deserve to feel good all the years of your life. There’s no doubt, physical inactivity dramatically increases your risk of brain health problems.
Some practical advice (if you don’t mind): Don’t wait until you “feel like it.”
Exercise may never be the ‘most fun’ you ever have. But, do it any way. Find something you can do and stick to it.
The fact remains: the value of exercise is well documented. Physical fitness will greatly improve your cardiorespiratory system, mental and emotional wellbeing. In addition, you’ll enjoy the reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and obesity.
And, even though this study speaks to the benefits of a ‘higher level’ of fitness, don’t let that discourage you. Get started today, build up slowly and reap the rewards as soon as possible.
You’ll thank me in 10 years! (just kidding, probably sooner!)
For more information about the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit – register here today!
Sources for this article include:
About the author: Jonathan Landsman is the host of NaturalHealth365.com, the NaturalHealth365 Talk Hour – a free, weekly health show – and the NaturalHealth365 INNER CIRCLE, a monthly subscription to the brightest minds in natural health and healing.
Reaching hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide, as a personal health consultant, writer and radio talk show host, Jonathan has been educating the public on the health benefits of an organic, non-GMO diet along with high-quality supplementation and healthy lifestyle habits, including exercise and meditation.
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