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Exercise Cuts Risk of Alzheimer's!

The next time you get comfortable on the couch instead of going for a walk, consider this: you may be increasing your risk for Alzheimer's disease. A recent study by the Karonlinska Institute in Sweden found that middle-aged people who exercised at least twice a week had a 60 percent lower risk of suffering from dementia than more sedentary people. The study also found that the biggest impact was in people who had genetic susceptibility to dementia.

According to Dr. Miia Kivipelto of the institute's Aging Research Center , this is the first study to show the long-term relation between physical activity and dementia later in life. Alzheimer's, which is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly, affects an estimated 12 million people throughout the world. The disease robs people of their memory and mental ability and while drug treatments can slow the early progression of the disorder, there is no cure.

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The researchers studied the mental health of nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 65-79 whose leisure activities had been monitored every five years from 1972 to 1987. The data was re-examined in 1998 and it was discovered that the active group, which performed activities that caused sweating and strained breathing such as walking and cycling, were less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's.

"We found that people who were active during mid-life and had leisure activities at least two times per week had a much lower risk for dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease," stated Kivipelto. However, neither Kivipelto nor her team found a link between the amount of exercise and the degree of reduced risk.

It isn't known how exercise decreases the risk of dementia, but it is suspected that it could be due to an effect on the brain and its messaging system as well as by improving blood flow to the brain. Whatever the reason, the benefits of exercise are clear: not only can it help keep your weight down and your heart healthy, but it's also good for your brain. Maintain your physical and mental well-being at any age and be sure to eat nutritious foods and exercise several times a week. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete - you just have to get off the couch and start moving.

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