A study has shown that middle-aged women who have a higher level of fitness are less likely to develop dementia in later life. 191 women aged between 38 and 60 years old took part in the 44-year-long study which assessed their fitness and their chances of being diagnosed with dementia.
The study by the University of Gothenburg found that fitter middle-aged women were 88% less likely to develop dementia and if they did develop the disease, the diagnosis was, on average, ten years later.
This long-term study has provided further evidence that staying fit and active is linked to better mental health as you get older. However, this study does not suggest that having a high level of fitness will protect against dementia, but it does show a link between physical fitness and mental health.
The study began in 1968 with a cardiovascular fitness test. From these results, the women were then put into three categories; low fitness, medium fitness and high fitness. From 191 women, 44 developed dementia. 32% of the low fitness group, 25% of the medium fitness group and only 5% of the high fitness group. While the age of death was not affected, there was a strong link between dementia and physical ability.
If women in the high fitness group were diagnosed with dementia, they were, on average, 90-years-old. This is much higher than those with medium fitness which were an average of 79-years-old when diagnosed.
As the test was only completed on Swedish women, there is no conclusion on how it would affect men or people from other nationalities as well as other factors. However, from research achieved so far, there are several strong suggestions of elements which can lower your risk of dementia. These include;