Healthy Lifestyle Crucial to Lower Dementia Risk

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By Roshni Mahesh | December 10, 2013 8:05 PM EST

Exercise help prevent dementia (Your Mildura Lifestyle/Flickr)

Leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce risk of developing dementia, according to a new study.  It included exercising regularly, following a healthy diet, abstaining completely from smoking, restricting consumption of alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.

Following at least four of these activities were associated with a 60 percent reduction in dementia and cognitive decline.  Regular exercise provided the highest protection against the brain disorder.

Interestingly, exercising also helped lower risk of other deadly diseases including diabetes, heart disease and stroke, by 70 percent.

"The size of reduction in the instance of disease owing to these simple healthy steps has really amazed us and is of enormous importance in an aging population," principle Investigator Professor Peter Elwood from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, said in a news release.

"Taking up and following a healthy lifestyle is however the responsibility of the individual him or herself. Sadly, the evidence from this study shows that very few people follow a fully healthy lifestyle.

The findings are based on a 35-year study conducted by a team of researchers from the Cardiff University in UK.  For the study, Professor Elwood and colleagues looked at 2,235 men aged between 45 and 59. All the participants were residents of Caerphilly in South Wales.  Information about the participants' lifestyle and prevalence of chronic diseases and cognitive decline was analysed and recorded.

At the end, the researchers found that lack of a healthy lifestyle contributed to the development of many deadly diseases among the participants.

"If the men had been urged to adopt just one additional healthy behaviour at the start of the study 35 years ago, and if only half of them complied, then during the ensuing 35 years there would have been a 13 per cent reduction in dementia, a 12 per cent drop in diabetes, six per cent less vascular disease and a five per cent reduction in deaths," Elwood said.

Findings of the study have been reported in PLOS ONE.

Dementia is a syndrome related to the brain that leads to memory loss, difficulty in communicating, thinking, understanding, judgment, planning and the ability to perform daily routines.  According to the World Health Organization, nearly 35.6 million people around the world are affected with dementia and nearly 7.7 million new cases are reported every year.

Following are some of the research-proven methods that help prevent dementia:

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