Dementia Prevention

Taking exercise for dementia prevention is the best lifestyle choice you can make, according to research carried out by Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine.

Cardiff University

The investigation is the longest of its kind to analyze just how far certain lifestyle choices can influence one’s general health and well being.

The 5 key lifestyle behaviours identified are:

1. Exercise
2. Not smoking
3. Healthy BMI (body mass index)
4. Healthy diet
5. Low alcohol intake

The researchers found that by consistently following these 5 behaviours dementia prevention is boosted by 60% and heart disease and stroke by 70%.

But of the five factors the most important is exercise to secure benefits for long term body and mental health.

And taken together these behaviours proved far more beneficial than medication or surgical procedures.

Professor Peter Elwood heads dementia prevention study

However surprisingly few of the 2,235 men who took part in the investigation actually followed the guidelines. Recent surveys suggest that less than 1% of the people in Wales follow a completely healthy lifestyle based on these five behaviours.

Adopting just one additional behaviour when the study started 35 years ago participants would have enjoyed a 13% reduction in dementia, 12% less incidence of diabetes, 6% in vascular disease and 5% in deaths.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomed the study which showed the importance of a healthy lifestyle in reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. "It is good to know that people can take control of their own welfare by following these simple lifestyle choices", she said.

With dementia rates set to treble to 135 million worldwide by 2050, this 35 year investigation could not have come too soon.

The Medical Research Council has initiated a multi-million pound project to further research in dementia. This will be spearheaded by Dr John Gallagher of Cardiff University with a team of investigators drawn from six institutes: Cambridge, Edinburgh, Kings College London, Imperial College London, UCL and Swansea.

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