I have watched several family members succumb to Alzheimerâ€™s, and I know that itâ€™s a difficult disease to prevent. In 2006, over 26 million people worldwide suffered from the disease, and itâ€™s been predicted that by 2050, 1 in 85 people will be affected by Alzheimerâ€™s.
But now, it looks like thereâ€™s something else we can do to decrease the risk of dementia: work out.
Researchers have found that moderate to heavy exercise could cut the risk of Alzheimerâ€™s in half. This information was found from the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1986. Over 1,000 people participated in the study; their physical activity was monitored from the beginning of the study, in 1986, through 2006.
The studyâ€™s results showed that 242 of the 1,200 participants were diagnosed with dementia, and 193 participants would develop Alzheimerâ€™s later in life. Those who exercised regularly decreased their risk of developing dementia by 40%. Meanwhile, those who didnâ€™t exercise or rarely exercised had a risk increase of 45% of contracting dementia.
Dr. Zaldy Tan of Brigham and Womenâ€™s Hospital stated, â€œThis is the first study to follow a large group of individuals for this long a period of time. It suggests that lowering the risk for dementia may be one additional benefit of maintaining at least moderate physical activity, even into the eighth decade of life.â€
A second study regarding Alzheimerâ€™s linked the disease with lack of vitamin D. According to the government-funded study, vitamin D deficiently can increase the risk of developing dementia up to fourfold. But there are still studies going on to further study this connection, so donâ€™t overdose on vitamin D just yet.
With a disease like Alzheimerâ€™s, which has no truly effective treatment thus far, prevention is the only way we can try to protect ourselves from the disease and its effects. I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™m going to be working out more!