Just 10 Minutes of Exercise a Day Could Help Prevent Dementia

New research from Boston University found engaging in regular physical activity could protect you from cognitive decline and Alzheimer's Disease.

older man and woman riding a bike on a beach
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We all know exercise is essential for achieving a healthy weight, keeping our heart strong and promoting longevity, but new research from the latest edition of Alzheimer's & Dementia—a peer-reviewed journal from the Alzheimer's Association—finds promising links between exercise and improved brain health. One study in particular discovered that incorporating even 10 minutes of moderate exercise each day could do wonders for protecting against cognitive decline.

The research comes from Boston University Medical Center, where data from two generations of the Framingham Heart Study (totaling about 2,700 people) was analyzed for physical activity and cognitive function. In both the older generation and their middle-aged offspring, engaging in regular exercise was related to better cognitive function. Regular exercise in terms of this study was defined as 10-21.4 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity each day (which adds up to 70-150 minutes per week). Additionally for the older generation, increasing their overall physical activity—mainly through increasing daily step count—contributed to stronger cognition, but this association was not found in the younger group.

Memory, thinking and planning skills, as well as word recall were all positively impacted by this simple lifestyle habit. The authors of this study say these findings line up with several previous studies but provide novel insights that will require further examination in seeking practical prevention methods for Alzheimer's and dementia.

The Bottom Line

While more research is needed before we can say regular exercise can prevent dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, these findings are encouraging in that there could be more tangible ways to prevent cognitive decline. Additionally, engaging in exercise on the higher end of this study's parameters—21 minutes per day—lines up with health experts' current daily minimum for exercise. Whether it's taking an extra lap around the neighborhood while walking your dog or finally planting that vegetable garden you've dreamed of, increasing your physical activity each day is easier than you'd think. Get inspired with these 9 Surprising Activities That Burn As Many Calories As a 30-Minute Walk.

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