- Researchers say physical and mental activity can help reduce the risk of dementia.
- They say these activities can include exercise, housework, and social visits with friends and family.
- Experts say it’s also important to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and engage in mindful activities like yoga.
Exercise, housework, and visiting friends and family are all ways to reduce your risk of dementia by up to 35%.
That’s according to a new study published in the journal neurology involving more than 500,000 people.
The participants were on average 56 years old. None of them had been diagnosed with dementia.
At the beginning of the study, the participants provided information about their physical activity themselves. They also documented additional activities, such as B. how they commuted to work or spent their free time, their use of electronic devices and personal information, including level of education.
The researchers then followed for an average of more than 10 years. They reported finding an association between certain activities and a reduced risk of dementia.
The researchers said that people who participated frequently in certain activities had a much lower risk of developing dementia than people who did not participate frequently.
- Vigorous physical activity was associated with a 35% lower risk of developing dementia.
- Housework resulted in a 21% lower risk.
- Daily visits to people (friends or family) resulted in a 15% lower risk.
Where you spent time with others and what you did while socializing also played a role in the study. For example, going to a bar or social club and watching TV did not reduce risk as much as other activities.
Genetic risk factors for developing dementia were considered along with a family history of the disease.
By the end of the follow-up period, more than 5,000 participants developed dementia. Those in the study most likely to develop dementia were older, male, with a history of high blood pressure or hyperlipidemia, and with lower socioeconomic status and higher body mass index.
“Further research is needed to confirm our findings. However, our results are encouraging that these simple lifestyle changes can be beneficial,” said Dr. Huan Song, study author and research professor at Sichuan University in China, in a statement.
However, he said, “We just don’t know the causal relationship(s).”
“It could be that people with a lower risk of dementia are more likely to participate in these activities than vice versa,” explained Plude.
dr Anisha Patel-Dunn, DO, psychiatrist and chief medical officer at LifeStance Health, told Healthline these study results reflect what has long been known to be true in the mental health community: prioritizing self-care and a mentally healthy routine is coming to you benefit general health.
“Mental health is no different from physical health and that includes incorporating healthy habits [dementia] prevention,” she says.
“Self-care fundamentals like sticking to a routine, getting regular exercise, and staying in touch with friends and family in person or over the phone are all incredibly supportive of overall mental well-being, and this study further shows that these simple habits can have extremely positive benefits in the long run.” visibility,” said Patel-Dunn.
Patel-Dunn suggests finding activities that you actually enjoy, as this is more likely to lead to lasting habits.
These activities can be different for each person, she says, but some suggestions include the following:
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day and practicing good sleep hygiene (i.e. avoiding screens before bed).
“I would suggest reading before bed, listening to relaxing music, or meditating to replace screen time,” Patel-Dunn said.
Organize your home environment
Keeping your surroundings organized and clean can be comforting and allow you to focus more effectively when working from home or attending a class.
“Combining chores with your favorite podcast or audiobook can become an activity you look forward to,” Patel-Dunn suggested.
Move your body daily
Making sure you set aside time each day to move your body is a healthy technique for dealing with stress.
“I would prioritize taking a short walk outside whenever possible, as connecting with nature can also be extremely grounding,” Patel-Dunn said.
“While these are all relatively simple techniques to lean on to support mental well-being, the truth is that they can produce wonderful results when practiced consistently,” she added. “It’s really the fundamentals that are so crucial in creating a healthy foundation for our mental and physical well-being.”
The National Institute on Aging also offers these
- Eat healthy foods (such as foods rich in nutrients that support proper brain function).
- Manage stress with mindful activities like yoga or journaling.
- Keep learning new things (e.g. take a class or join a club).
- Keep regular doctor check-ups.
Prude says most of the current advice on reducing Alzheimer’s risk comes from a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that suggests three promising areas where more research is needed: increased physical activity, blood pressure control, and cognitive training.