In 2018, it is estimated that approximately 425,000 Australians are living with dementia. Dementia becomes far more prevalent with age, as one in 10 people over 65 have dementia, and three in 10 over 85 have dementia, and this number is only expected to rise. By 2025, there is expected to be over 530,000 Australians living with dementia, and a whopping 1,100,890 by 2056.
Therefore, awareness needs to be raised regarding the positive effects exercise has not only those already diagnosed with dementia, but also in preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.
Physical activity, not only in your younger years, but also throughout adulthood and older adulthood is associated with a decreased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Including physical activity in your every day routine may be as simple as parking a little further away from the supermarket and walking that little bit further; or taking the stairs instead of the lift. These simple adjustments can help to increase the blood flow to the brain and help to stimulate the growth and survival of brain cells.
A recent study conducted with the LADIS (Leukoaraiosis and Disability) assessed whether physical activity interventions would decrease the risk of cognitive impairment. Over 600 subjects, between the ages of 65 – 84 years old were included in three years of trials. These trials included baseline and yearly testing of cognitive impairment. The study concluded that that physical activity significantly reduced the risk of cognitive impairment and vascular dementia in older people living independently.
As such, maintaining a regular routine of physical activity including endurance training and strength training is important for reducing the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults – and reducing the risks of dementia.