Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Dementia Risk

A new study finds that being physically fit in middle age may protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life.




The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are predicted to rise significantly as our population continues to age.  At the present time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and most other forms of dementia.

While the primary cause (or causes) of Alzheimer’s disease remains unclear at this time, it is clear that advancing age, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels all appear to be linked with this debilitating and irreversible form of dementia.  At the same time, it is also well known that regular exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated high cholesterol levels.  Now, a newly published research study, which appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine, strongly suggests that being physically fit during mid-life may also help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia later in life.

In this study, 19,458 middle-aged adults were assessed for their level of physical fitness between 1971 and 2009.  After an average of 25 years of follow-up, 1,659 of these research volunteers went on to be diagnosed with dementia. When researchers correlated levels of physical fitness during mid-life with the incidence of dementia later in life, they found that higher levels of physical fitness in middle age appeared to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia later in life.  In fact, the research volunteers with the highest levels of physical fitness during their middle age years were 36 percent less likely to develop dementia during the course of this study, when compared with volunteers who were at the lowest levels of physical fitness during mid-life.

In addition to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, the findings of this newly published clinical study strongly suggest that regular exercise during middle age is also associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing dementia later in life.  In view of the many health benefits associated with regular exercise, if you are not currently getting 3 to 4 hours of at least moderate exercise per week, then please see your physician and a personal trainer, and begin your own personal exercise program!

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Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

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Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


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