Early Exercise Habits Decrease Alzheimer's Risk Later in Life, Research Finds

If you spent a lot of time on the couch in your teens and twenties instead of exercising, it may spell trouble later in life with cognitive function, increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, finds new research.

As we age, we tend to get more concerned about our health, often adopting regular fitness routines by our thirties or forties. But what about those blissful days of our youth? Can we really afford to waste them lazing away?

New research suggests no. “Even early and mid-adulthood may be critical periods for promotion of physical activity” in order to help keep our brains sharp well into old age said lead researcher Tina Hoang in a news release from the Alzheimer’s Association.

While previous research points to the benefits of exercise later in life to ward off mental decline and dementia-related to Alzheimer’s disease, this new research says the effects of exercise in early adulthood later in life aren’t as well understood.

The new research looked at more than 3,200 adults between the ages of 18 to 30, specifically their activity levels and their television viewing habits over a 25-year period.

The researchers found that people who had long-term low physical activity and those who had long-term high television viewing patterns scored worse on the cognitive tests than those who were more active and viewed television less frequently.

While the researchers say they couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, the did note that “sedentary behaviors, like TV viewing, could be especially relevant for future generations of adults due to the growing use of screen-based technologies.” And, Hoang added that, “because research indicates that Alzheimer’s and other dementias develop over several decades, increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior beginning in early adulthood may have a significant public health impact.”

Experts say the results aren’t surprising and that developing physical fitness habits at an early age can ensure healthier habits well into adulthood.

Image: rebeccahidalgo

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