Research has identified one habit that makes women nearly 90 per cent less likely to develop dementia, and it’s not doing crossword puzzles…

While reading, crossword puzzles and socialising are all good ways to stimulate your brain, the one habit that could protect you from dementia is to move that body.

Yes, we’re talking about exercise.

According to a study published by the American Academy of Neurology, women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90 per cent less likely to develop dementia decades later than moderately fit women.

When the highly fit women did develop dementia, they developed the disease an average of 11 years later than women who were moderately fit. This means at age 90 instead of age 79.

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Women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90 percent less likely to develop dementia decades later than moderately fit women.

“These findings are exciting because it’s possible that improving people’s cardiovascular fitness in middle age could delay or even prevent them from developing dementia,” said study author Helena Hörder, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“However, this study does not show cause and effect between cardiovascular fitness and dementia, it only shows an association. More research is needed to see if improved fitness could have a positive effect on the risk of dementia and also to look at when during a lifetime a high fitness level is most important.”

The study spanned over 40 years

For the study, 191 women with an average age of 50 took a bicycle exercise test until they were exhausted to measure their peak cardiovascular capacity.

Over the next 44 years, the women were tested for dementia six times. During that time, 44 of the women developed dementia.

Five per cent of the highly fit women developed dementia, compared to 25 per cent of moderately fit women and 32 per cent of the women with low fitness. The highly fit women were 88 per cent less likely to develop dementia than the moderately fit women.

Among the women who had to stop the exercise test due to problems, 45 per cent developed dementia decades later.

“This indicates that negative cardiovascular processes may be happening in midlife that could increase the risk of dementia much later in life,” Hörder said.

Source: American Academy of Neurology via www.sciencedaily.com

Related: Could coffee protect you from dementia?