Dementia Risk and Fitness Level

Monday March 2, 2015

In the first large population-based study to evaluate the relationship between self-rated fitness level at midlife and future dementia risk, scientists noted some compelling findings. The evaluation included 3,559 Finnish adults followed for 30 years. Study subjects who reported their fitness levels at age 50 as “poor” were four times more likely to develop dementia over the next three decades vs. those who rated their fitness levels as “good”. (Journal of Internal Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/joim.12202)

We now suspect that dementia develops over several decades and that physical activity/exercise–because it benefits the brain through so many different ways—is arguably the single most powerful strategy available to protect our mental faculties. Simply taking a brisk 30-minute walk most days during your adult life may mean the difference between saving or losing your mind.

Many of you may know that I have been touched personally by Alzheimers –my mother passed away last year due to the disease –and I have a passion for helping those who care for or live with memory problems. The Meadowmont Wellness Center hosts the UNC Caregivers’ Support Group the 4th Wednesday of every month at 12:30. As a group, being active is our first defense, and most of us include walking or other exercise daily! All are welcome to join us as we share tips to improve the quality of life for those dealing with memory problems.

By: Susan Chesser, RN, BSN, MPH, Health Educator