Many of you may have heard of many of the benefits of exercise: increased endurance, increased strength and balance, improved mood, improved ability to perform daily tasks, and decreased pain to name a few. New research has now found another benefit of exercise on your body: it can be linked to a decreased risk of dementia development! 

This study out of Sweden followed 191 middle ages women over 44 years, and evaluated cardiovascular fitness and dementia risk/development. Cardiovascular fitness was tested using a cycle ergometer, and grouped the women in to three categories: fit, moderately fit, and unfit. Those women underwent testing and screening for dementia during the study duration.

They found that those women who had high cardiovascular fitness compared to those that had moderate cardiovascular fitness were 88% less likely to develop dementia. Furthermore, high fitness delayed the age of onset of dementia by about nine and a half years. 

It is important to note that although these findings are very positive, they do not draw a causative relationship at this time. 

The important take always from the article is that exercise and cardiovascular fitness can be related to brain health and aging! Taking care of your body also takes care of your mind. And furthermore, it is never too late to start exercising! 

So how can you improve your cardiovascular fitness? 

  1. Start incorporating walking/movement into your day to day life. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, go for a walk on your lunch break or after dinner. 
  2. Make exercise a social appointment. Instead of always going out for dinner, coffee, or drinks, make plans with friends to go to a yoga class or a fitness class. You could also join a running, walking, or cycling group. You may also want to share personal trainer sessions with your friends, this will cut costs and help you spend time together!  
  3. Swim. Swimming is a great activity to increase both cardiovascular fitness and strength. In Canada through the summer we have access to swimming for free through many lakes. Swimming is also available and usually cost effective through your local YMCA or community center. 
  4. Talk to your doctor or exercise specialist. If you are thinking about starting to get active and looking for ideas or guidance start by talking to your doctor or anyone on your medical team. 

References: 

http://n.neurology.org/content/90/15/e1298