High levels of fitness in your 40s and 50s may prevent dementia and save thousands of dollars in annual health care costs!

Lynn Griffith
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Physical activity is an important part of heart disease and stroke prevention.  The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.(1)

High levels of fitness in midlife substantially reduce health care costs over the age of 65!

A new study found that people with high levels of fitness in midlife have substantially lower annual health care costs over the age of 65.  The Vanderbilt research team studied 19,571 healthy individuals who completed a cardiorespiratory fitness assessment at the mean age of 49, and received Medicare approximately 22 years later at an average age of 71.(2)

The researchers found that men with high levels of fitness had an annual health care cost of $7,569 vs. men with a low level of fitness annual health care cost of $12,811.  For women, high level fitness was associated with $6,065 annual health care costs vs. low level of fitness annual health care cost being $10,029. (2)

High levels of exercise midlife save men $5,242 and women $3,964 in annual health care costs after the age of 65!

Being physically active doesn’t just protect the heart and lungs, but may also help lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Another study found that men and women with greater levels of fitness in midlife also had a 36 percent lower incidence of developing dementia than those who were least fit.(3)

High levels of fitness lowers incidence of developing dementia by 36 percent!

Results on exercise association to dementia risk have been mixed.  Some studies reported that moderate exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga could reduce risk of memory problems.  In 2010, the National Institutes of Health reported that there was not sufficient evidence to recommend physical activity to prevent dementia.(3)

Research shows that high levels of fitness lower risk for cardiovascular disease, which can increase the possibility of developing dementia.  In the above study, they found that the association between fitness levels and dementia risk held even after accounting for patients who had suffered a stroke.(3)

If you are moving into your middle years, keep moving, try new sports, classes or gyms.  Exercise will not only improve your physical health, but is a healthy way to combat stress and improve mental health.  Don’t let your hectic schedule keep you from taking care of yourself!

Sources for this article include:
(1) www.heart.org
(2) www.sciencedaily.com
(3) www.livescience.com

comments powered by Disqus