Here’s Another Reason to Hit the Gym: Fitness Lowers Dementia Risk
Researchers have found that improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness is strongly linked to lower dementia risk.
“It is important to say that it is never too late to begin exercising. The average participant in our study was around 60 years old at baseline, and improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness was strongly linked to lower dementia risk,” Tari added.
For the study, published in the journal Lancet Digital Health, between 1984 and 1986, almost 75,000 Norwegians participated in the first wave of the HUNT Survey (HUNT1).
11 years later, HUNT2 was organised, and 33,000 of the same people participated.
More than 30,000 of them answered enough questions to be included in Tari's analyses.
The study links results from the Fitness Calculator to the risk of dementia and dementia-related deaths up to 30 years later.
To investigate these associations, Tari has used data from two different databases, the Health and Memory Study in Nord-Trondelag and the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry.
Between 1995 and 2011, 920 people with dementia were included in the Health and Memory Study in Nord-Trondelag.
A total of 320 of them had also participated in both HUNT1 and HUNT2 and provided enough information about their own health to be included in the analyses.
It turned out that poor cardiorespiratory fitness in both the 1980s and 1990s was significantly more common in this group than among otherwise comparable HUNT participants who had not been diagnosed with dementia.
Furthermore, it was 48 per cent lower if one had changed from poor to higher fitness levels between the two surveys.
All participants were followed until death or end of follow-up in the summer of 2016.
The researchers found 814 women and men who had died from or with dementia during the period.
This means that dementia was stated as the underlying, immediate or additional cause of death.
The risk was lowest for those who had good fitness at both HUNT surveys.
he study provides evidence that maintaining good fitness is also good for the brain.
"High-intensity exercise improves fitness faster than moderate exercise, and we recommend that everyone exercise with a high heart rate at least two days each week," Tari said.
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