As we age, our cognitive functioning declines. Cognitive functioning includes several mental abilities, like thinking, reasoning, remembering, attention, and problem-solving. A normal decline in cognitive functioning can make us more forgetful. Or it could take us longer to solve difficult problems.

But these can also be signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. By 2050, it’s expected more than 115 million people worldwide will have dementia.

Exercise & Dementia: Lowering Your Risk for Cognitive Decline

You can take steps toward preventing dementia. One easy step is exercising. When it comes to exercise and dementia, a little bit of exercise goes a long way, according to a recent study.

Get Help Preventing Dementia and More

At UVA Health, our geriatric care providers are experts in helping older adults stay healthy.

The study followed 62,000 adults who were 65 or older. It found small amounts of light-intensity exercise lowered the risk of dementia by 14%. The exercise included an 18-minute daily walk or an hour of golf once a week.

Exercise also keeps the brain sharper, according to another study. For every flight of stairs a person climbed daily, their physical brain age was half a year younger. They used MRI to measure brain age.

Other studies show exercise helps with preventing dementia by boosting memory and thinking. Regular aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus. This part of the brain controls verbal memory and learning. Exercise also reduces inflammation in the brain. It makes the brain release chemicals that make the brain healthier.

Preventing Dementia With Exercise: It Only Takes a Little

Make exercise part of your daily routine to keep your brain young. When it comes to exercise and dementia, aerobic exercise is best for keeping your brain sharp. Choose moderate-intensity activities like walking, stair-climbing, swimming, or dancing. Even everyday chores like cleaning or gardening count. Remember to talk with your doctor before you begin a new exercise routine.


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