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Exercise reduces chances of dementia, lengthy study concludes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Exercise plays a significant role in reducing the risk of developing dementia, a study spanning 35 years has found. Conducted by Cardiff University, the study began with 2,235 men from Caerphilly in 1979. Factors also found to be significant in preventing the condition was diet and smoking, which also had an impact on preventing illnesses developing in older age.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - However, exercise had the single biggest influence on dementia levels. Five factors found integral to helping avoid disease were regular exercise, not smoking, low body weight, healthy diet and low alcohol intake.

Behavior in the test subjects in relation to their health over that period initially focused on the causes of heart disease, which was particularly high in the area.

Over the course of the study, information was moved to looking at the effects of dementia and strokes.

Over 400 research papers in the medical press have been produced from its findings. Another important fact uncovered in the study was the role that aspirin held in preventing heart attacks.

Funded by the Medical Research Council, the Alzheimer's Society and the British Heart Foundation, the study followed four of these had a 60 percent decline in dementia and cognitive decline rates. Exercise named as the strongest mitigating factor.

These subjects also had 70 percent fewer instances of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, compared with people who followed none of the factors.

"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," Professor Peter Elwood, who led the study says. Elwood led the study on behalf of Cardiff School of Medicine.

He added that healthy behavior was far more beneficial than any medical treatment or preventative procedure. "Taking up and following a healthy lifestyle is however the responsibility of the individual him or herself.

Elwood added a sobering qualifier at the end of this statement. "Sadly, the evidence from this study shows that very few people follow a fully healthy lifestyle."

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