Moving against dementia

Physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, diabetes and depression – all risk factors for dementia.

Recent research reveals that physical exercise reduces the rate of decline of cognitive function in those suffering mild memory problems while the physically inactive have an 80 per cent increased risk of dementia.
The brain abnormalities that lead to dementia are known to start at least 20 to 30 years before the disease manifests, suggesting that behaviours in young and mid adulthood will have a significant impact on brain health in old age.

Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing co-directors Professors Perminder Sachdev and Henry Brodaty, said one of the most effective strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life is to become physically active from an early age, and remain active throughout our lives.

“By improving physical activity by just 5 per cent, as many as 100,000 fewer Australians would develop dementia by 2050,” Prof Sachdev said.

And it is never too late to start exercising.

“The SMART trial conducted by our collaborators showed that physical exercise reduced the rate of decline in cognitive function in those with mild memory problems,” he said.

The message for all Australians is to get active. Exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30-40 minutes every day, including a degree of vigorous exercise, is recommended.