Exercise, every little helps! Researchers in Dementia are proving that light exercise is a positive step to keep the brain young. Guidelines being issued by the UK chief medical officer (which also mirrors existing US guidelines on the subject), are telling us to get moving even for just a minute or two at a time. Gone are the days where you have to break a sweat for 30 minutes a day before believing it was doing any good! This not only makes improving our health easier, it is more accessible and achievable for those who are less mobile, are too busy or are simply put off by going out in the rain – sunnier climates anyone..?
Something as simple as light housework can help us stave off shrinkage of the brain which has been identified as a contributing factor towards dementia. Researchers showed that normal aging contributes to 0.2% of brain shrinkage every year – who knew?
Taking into consideration demographic factors, researchers found that every extra hour of light physical activity per day was linked to 0.22% greater brain volume. That is equal to just over a year’s less brain ageing. Feather dusters at the ready…!
Given the encouraging news that each and every one of us are able to do something positive towards maintaining our brain health well into old age, more vigorous activity should not be discounted either. Just by committing to achieving 10,000 steps per day, a person can increase their percentage to a high of 0.35% compared to those who achieved less than 5,000 steps per day. That’s an equivalent of 1.75 years less brain aging. Research has also linked higher levels of fitness activity to longevity which allows for a better quality of life into old age.
In 2015 there were approximately 45 million people worldwide living with dementia costing around $818 billion. By 2040, England and Wales estimate 1.2 million people will be living with dementia – an increase of 57% from 2016. Between 2006/07 and 2015/16, in Northern Ireland the number of people on the dementia register rose from 9,550 to 13,617 which was an increase of 43%, with a diagnosis rate of 73% in 2016/17. Researchers have identified the importance of health and lifestyle behaviours throughout life and the link in developing dementia later in life. A lot of research is still being done on this topic and there are still a lot of unknowns about risk factors which impact on the development of dementia. However, the number of people living with dementia worldwide could decrease by 9 million worldwide by 2050 if an intervention that delayed dementia onset and progression by even a year were to occur.
Shocking statistics show that dementia is currently set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. However, current studies are showing us that we can all take positive steps (10,000 anyone?) towards a better retirement and why we should consider wellness not only when we reach retirement, but in planning for our retirement.
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