- Women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had an 88 percent lower risk of dementia than those with moderate fitness
- Women with the lowest fitness had a 41 percent greater risk of dementia than those of average fitness
- Cardiovascular fitness can be used as a measure of how well blood is circulating to your heart and brain
- Cardiovascular fitness may slash dementia risk because exercise (which helps improve cardiovascular fitness) increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha, which is responsible for improving mitochondrial biogenesis
By Dr. Mercola
Staying fit is key to warding off many chronic diseases in later life, including those that may affect your brain. Worldwide, 47 million people are living with dementia. This is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030 and more than triple by 2050, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Yet, you may be able to significantly slash your risk by taking steps to improve and maintain your cardiovascular fitness.
In fact, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden revealed that women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had an 88 percent lower risk of dementia than those with moderate fitness.2 Further, even maintaining average fitness is worthwhile, as women with the lowest fitness had a 41 percent greater risk of dementia than those of average fitness. Fitness, in this case, is not the same as exercise, and the study did not measure how often the women exercised.
Instead, it focused on cardiovascular fitness, as measured by a stepwise-increased maximal ergometer cycling test. Cardiovascular fitness can be a measure of how well blood is circulating to your heart and brain. Study author and physiotherapist Helena Horder told Time, “If the small blood vessels and circulation in the heart are OK, then the brain is also affected in a positive way by good small vessel circulation.”3