Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Exercise Reduces Risk of Dementia, British Study Shows

By Pat Rarus
What is good for the heart is also good for the head. Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise, such as walking or jogging, prevents heart attacks. Similarly, exercise – apparently of any type—is linked to mental health. That’s the conclusion of a 35-year investigation carried out by researchers at Cardiff University School of Medicine in the United Kingdom. A December 10, 2013, article on the BBC News website details the results of the comprehensive study.

From the article:
Taking regular exercise is the most effective single lifestyle choice people can make to reduce their risk of dementia, according to one of the most extensive studies yet into people’s long-term health outcomes.

The 35-year investigation, carried out by researchers at Cardiff University, found that consistently following just four out of five key behaviours could reduce dementia risk by 60 per cent, while also cutting the chance of heart disease and stroke by 70 per cent.

Of the five behaviours – exercise, not smoking, having a low bodyweight, a healthy diet and low alcohol intake – exercise was found to be the most effective at improving long-term physical and mental health.

Although the five factors will be familiar to almost everyone, researchers said they were “really amazed” by quite how beneficial they had proved to be.
“What the research shows is that following a healthy lifestyle confers surprisingly large benefits to health,” said principle investigator Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine. “Healthy behaviours have a far more beneficial effect than any medical treatment or preventative procedure.”

Professor Elwood said that, unfortunately, the evidence from the study was that very few men actually follow the kind of healthy lifestyle that can prove so beneficial, and that, while smoking rates had gone down since the study began, the number of people living completely healthily had remained unchanged.

Richard Rettig, an active Oceanside man, who admits to being “over the age of 80,” walks on the beach for at least half-an-hour from three to seven days a week. Richard’s memory is excellent, and his engaging lifestyle proves it. After retiring from a stellar career in government service, public relations and other professional endeavors, the Harvard alumnus is involved in a variety of activities. For his alma mater, Richard interviews teenage applicants for the Harvard Club of San Diego. “There is nothing like talking to 17-year-olds to keep you mentally alert,” he said with a grin.

One year ago, Richard started a blog, Organic Food Worldwide, and has posted more than 100 entries to date. His goal is to raise $1 million to fund an online organic food network.

In addition to blogging about the benefits of organic food, Richard is extolling the benefits of joining Toastmasters International, a worldwide non-profit communications and leadership organization. Richard currently serves as the District 5 Public Relations Officer.

Promoting Toastmasters throughout San Diego County requires an active mental and physical regime. Richard attends numerous meetings – some as far away as El Cajon, more than a 100-mile roundtrip from Oceanside. Fortunately, he is in great shape to handle all the activity. “January was really a busy month for me,” Richard recalled, as he prepared for yet another walk on the beach.

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