Midlife Fitness Levels Tied to Risk of Dementia Later in Life
Rates of dementia, inclusive of Alzheimer’s, are expected to increase an alarming 300% in the coming decades placing it among the highest health risks for Americans today. While many have attributed the spike to longer lifespans, that alone does not account the exponential rise. An increase in sedentary work environments and lifestyles is also suspected to be a pre-curser to dementia. TrekDesk Treadmill Desk was designed to increase activity levels at the office but could walking at work prevent or reduce the risk of dementia later in life? A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1567851) found that higher midlife fitness and activity levels show a distinct correlation with a lower risk of developing all cause dementia, suggesting it might.
The study, funded by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and American Heart Association, analyzed date from nearly 20,000 participants initially with a mean age of 50 and measured baseline fitness via a treadmill test. There was a 36% reduction in risk from the quartile measured as most physically fit compared to the lower quartile participants. Surprisingly, the positive test results showing reduced risk of dementia dependent upon fitness levels were independent of any incidence of stroke.
While activity levels must be increased to improve fitness Americans are less active today than during any other generation. The challenge still remaining is how to increase activity levels when work and leisure environments are growing more and more sedentary.
“There have been numerous studies showing the positive effects of exercise on the brain such as increased brain size, cognitive abilities, capillary production, and neural plasticity in a relatively short period of time; as well as a reduction in risk to other pre-cursors to dementia such as diabetes and hypertension,” stated Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk. “This study adds to the growing body of evidence that exercise is essential to long term physical and mental health.”