By Jenny Hill, Unsplash

We know that exercise is important, but a recent study shows its dynamic in holding off dementia.

New data shows that 80 year olds who exercise moderately are at lower risk of dementia than inactive adults aged 50 to 60. This is significant,  because late age is the greatest risk for all-cause dementia and sedentary behaviors are increasing, both in younger people and older people.

The findings came from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA), and were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2021.

Lead study investigator, Dr Natan Feter,  Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil said, ‘Even moderate-intensity physical activity once per week can reduce the risk of dementia. We had previously shown this effect on people with mild cognitive impairment. Here, we showed this effect for the overall older population.’

The study followed 8270 adults aged 50 years and older for 17 years between 2002 and 2019.  The risk for dementia increased by 7.8% for each year increase in age. About 8% developed dementia.

However, risk for all-cause dementia was reduced for those who exercised, compared with their inactive peers.

In Dr Feter’s opinion, this was the study’s main finding.

It echoes the findings of the 35 year long Caerphilly Study, conducted by Dr Peter Elsworthy at Cardiff University.  Ninety percent of middle aged men living in the county were involved. The study has since inspired more than 400 research papers and further study around the world. The key findings were that those following a healthier lifestyle had a 50% reduction in diabetes and a 60% reduction in dementia.

Time to put best foot forward!


Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.