A high level of cardiovascular fitness reduces your risk of dementia by 90%

Being physically active does not only make you physically fit, but also makes you mentally healthy. In a Swedish study of women and fitness, it was revealed that people who have a high level of cardiovascular fitness are 90 percent less likely to develop dementia later in life.

The study, published in the medical journal American Academy of Neurologyevaluated the cardiovascular fitness of women based on an exercise test. The test required 191 women, with an average age of 50, to ride a stationary bike to exhaustion to measure their peak cardiovascular capacity. The workload for a high fitness level was at least 103 watts, while the workload for a low fitness level was 80 watts or less. In total, 40 women met the criteria for a high fitness level, 92 women were in the medium fitness category, and 59 women were in the low fitness category or stopped the exercise test because of chest pain, high blood pressure, or other cardiovascular problems.

Throughout the next 44 years, the participants came back for dementia testing six times. During that time, a total of 44 women developed dementia. Only five percent of highly fit women developed dementia, in comparison to 32 percent of women with low fitness level and 25 percent of moderately fit women. In addition, 45 percent of those who stopped the exercise test developed dementia. Moreover, highly fit women who did develop dementia had the disease an average of 11 years later compared to moderately fit women, or at 90 years old instead of 79.

The findings of the study indicated that having a high level of cardiovascular fitness reduces the risk of developing dementia by 90 percent. The study emphasized the importance of being physically fit, especially in midlife, in preventing various health diseases. (Related: Research: Lack of cardiovascular fitness kills more than diabetes, smoking and obesity combined.)

Simple ways to increase your cardiovascular fitness

It is important to make According to research, high-intensity exercise performed in intervals or for short bursts of time can improve cardiovascular fitness. There are five everyday exercises that can help you enhance your heart rate and your fitness level:

  • Walking – Instead of a slow-paced walking, walk briskly. The average person weighing 155 pounds (lbs) who walks at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 30 minutes can burn about 150 calories. This can also improve your heart rate. If that is too fast for you, try to increase your speed at intervals. Increase your pace for a minute and then go back to a more leisurely walk for the next minute.
  • Running – When running, try to change your speed and intensity at slightly random intervals. This will allow your heart rate to increase without breaking your energy bank. Try to run hard for 30 seconds with a minute of walking in between.
  • Strength-training – To keep your heart rate elevated, perform circuits that involve different muscle groups. Alternating exercises that involve various muscles lets you rest the ones you recently worked on, at the same time, continuing to move.
  • Yoga – To improve your cardiovascular fitness with yoga, try a Vinsaya, power, or flow class. In this type of yoga, you will continuously move with your breath, keeping your heart rate elevated.
  • Cycling – Whether cycling indoors or outdoors, pedal for 40 seconds with a cadence of 80 and as much resistance as you can endure. Then, pedal for 20 seconds with a 100-stroke cadence but without resistance. Do this 10 times. The spike in resistance when pedaling will make you work harder.

Read more news stories and studies on preventing dementia through exercise by going to Alzheimers.news.

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