No matter what your age is, start exercising, even a little—it is one of the best safeguards against dementia.
People who have remained active throughout their adult life are the least likely to develop dementia in later years, but even those who take up light exercise after they retire will also reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
Researchers from University College London tracked the health and activity levels of 1417 participants in the British Birth Cohort who were born in 1946. Those who were always active from the age of 36 until 69 were the least likely to develop dementia, even after the researchers had stripped out other risk factors of poor education, cardiovascular disease and mental health.
But if that ship has sailed, don’t worry. The researchers said that taking up exercise—such as walking or cycling—later in life also had a positive impact on cognitive ability. “Being physically active at any time in adulthood, and to any extent—even being active just once a month—is linked with a higher later-life cognitive state,” said Sarah-Naomi James, one of the researchers.