Someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds. There are over 55 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2020. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries.
Research shows that most people currently living with dementia have not received a formal diagnosis. In high income countries, only 20-50% of dementia cases are recognised and documented in primary care.
There is evidence that physical fitness might help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
In a recent study, researchers conclude that cardiorespiratory fitness is, indeed, linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) in later life.
The study led by Dr. Edward Zamrini and his colleagues studied 649.605 military veterans ages 30-95 years. The participants had not received a diagnosis with ADRD and had performed an Exercise Treadmill Test as part of their routine care. The researchers analyzed these individuals’ charts for the diagnosis of ADRD over an average of 8.8 years.
In the study, the researchers divided participants into five groups based on the METs they could achieve from low to higher fitness, which was about 3.8 to 11.7 METs on average. 1 MET is equivalent to sitting quietly for example, yoga requires an average of 3.2 METs, and backpacking at 3.63 miles per hour would demant 11.6 METs.
The scientists found that less fit individuals were at the highest risk of experiencing ADRD. Conversely, highly fit people were the least likely to develop ADRD.
They found that compared with the least fit participants, the fittest were 33% less likely to develop ADRD.
The researchers emphasize that there are 2 main factors that influence cardiorespiratory fitness, genetics and exercise. The first one is a non-modifiable factor, but we can do exercise and increase our cardiorespiratory fitness, and that even mild to moderate exercise can help decrease our risk of dementia.
Mary McGorray, M.D. (2022, Mar 11). Study finds fitness may reduce dementia risk by 33%. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:
Statistics from Alzheimer’s Disease International: