Women Who Work Out Greatly Reduce Their Risk Of Dementia (According To Science)

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signs of dementia

Dementia is a scary thing to experience. For those who aren’t familiar with this disease, it’s a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain and its ability to function properly. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and currently 50 million people worldwide suffer from it, 5 million of whom are in the U.S. It's also the sixth leading cause of death among U.S. adults.

If you have personally witnessed the symptoms and signs of dementia with a loved one, you've probably asked yourself numerous times this question: What can we do to give ourselves the best chance of avoiding this horrible disease?

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To be honest, there’s no one answer to that question. However, learning how to get in shape and adopting a healthier lifestyle can certainly help. Needless to say, living healthier reduces our likelihood of suffering from any disease.

When living healthier, you think of working out, eating fruits and vegetables, and denying yourself sugar. And for women in particular, you wouldn’t be wrong.

In a study published in The Medical Journal Neurology, researchers found a link between women’s cardiovascular fitness and their likelihood of getting dementia.

The study was performed on 191 women in Sweden between 1968-2012, who were between the ages of 38-60 and completed an ergometer cycling test to assess their fitness levels. Throughout the test, each woman’s workload was examined to see how long they could go before they became fatigued.

To distinguish between workload, there was a “low fitness” group (which consisted of 59 participants), a “medium fitness” group (which consisted of 92 participants), and a “high fitness” group (which consisted of 40 participants).

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Researchers found that among all 191 women, 44 of them (23 percent) developed dementia. Yet, among those who interrupted their workout due to reaching their submaximal workload, that number jumped to 45 percent.

In other words, those who didn’t push themselves beyond the point of being tired were more susceptible to developing the disease.

"The level that you are so exhausted that you have to interrupt the test is a measure, in watts, of your work capacity,” said Helena Horder, a professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “Cardiovascular fitness or endurance can also be tested in a submaximal test where you don’t push the person to maximal capacity."

Researchers also found that the average age at the start of dementia was 11 years later in the “high fitness” group than the “medium fitness” group. Overall, “high fitness” compared to “medium fitness” decreased the risk of dementia by 88 percent!

Granted, no study is perfect. Correlation does not equal causation. There could be other factors influencing results, such as genetics, lack of diversity within sample size, social life, and so on. Social life is important because there have been links between loneliness and dementia in the past.

Nonetheless, it’s something important to think about.

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Eric Webb is a writer living in New Jersey. He has his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Penn State. He's passionate about sports and encouraging people to be themselves.