Saturday 24 March 2018

Just one hour of exercise a week can halve your chances of getting Alzheimer's

Laura Donnelly

Just one hour of exercise a week can halve the chance of getting Alzheimer's disease, claims a study that ranks the seven lifestyle threats driving the rising levels of dementia.

The research by Cambridge University says one in three cases of the condition could be prevented by increased activity levels, a cut in smoking and tackling health problems such as obesity and diabetes. The study, published in the 'Lancet Neurology', is the first to quantify the combined impact of lifestyle factors influencing dementia.

It identifies exercise as the most significant protection against the condition. Those who failed to do three 20-minute bursts of vigorous exercise a week, such as jogging or football, or five 30-minute sessions of moderate activity, such as walking, were 82pc more likely to go on to develop dementia.

Obesity in midlife increased the risks of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease by 60pc, while high blood pressure raised the threat by 61pc.

Smoking was found to increase dementia risks by 59pc, while those with diabetes were 46pc more likely to develop dementia. The study follows growing evidence that efforts to maintain a healthy heart also protect against dementia.

Reduced blood flow to the heart, caused by a poor diet or lack of exercise, can reduce blood flow to the brain.

The new research led by Cambridge University examined almost a decade of studies on each of the risk factors for dementia, using new models to calculate the proportion of dementia that could be prevented.

Other factors found to sharply increase the risk of dementia included depression and lower levels of educational attainment, the study found.

The research published today is the first to conclude that one in three cases of dementia could be avoided by changes in lifestyle.

Prof Carol Brayne, the lead author from Cambridge University, said: "Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages."

The study found the seven factors increasing the risk of contracting Alzheimer's were physical inactivity, depression, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, low educational attainment and diabetes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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